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Posts Tagged ‘Economics’

  1. Tell me a story…

    29 October 2014 by shartley

    Image Source: RBA

    Inspired by Cameron Paterson to use images for inspiring thinking processes, to commence the topic of Unemployment for HSC Economics I handed out a different graph from the RBA Chart Pack related to Unemployment and gave students in pairs 15 minutes to tell me a story about what the chart told them.  I said I was looking for drama and climatic turning points.  They then presented their stories to the rest of the class.  The stories won’t win them many points in an Economics HSC Exam but it certainly engaged them in the topic and allowed them to be more creative and think deeply about Unemployment.  The story below is the result of one pair based on the graph pictured above, while not 100% accurate, it demonstrated creative thinking about the graph.  Please note the concluding paragraph was a deliberate ploy to include several English terms.

    Picture this: Australia in 2002-5, a bustling economy struggling to establish itself with the giants of the world against insurmountable odds. The economy had job vacancies higher than the advertisements for these jobs, showing the lack of awareness of these jobs. Never fear though because after 2005 there was a sharp increase in the advertisements for jobs, with only a marginal increase in the job vacancies. At this point in time the advertisements were actually higher than the vacancies, showing the desperate need for awareness regarding job vacancies. PEOPLE WERE CRYING OUT FOR HELP, AND THERE WAS NO WHITE KNIGHT RIDING TO SAVE THEM. This travesty is due to the Global Financial Crisis, which hit Australia at the peak of advertisements shown in the graph, when vacancies were 1% lower than advertisements. In 2008 the vacancy trend was removed completely from the graph. This could be due to the vast amount of vacancies as the GFC hit, causing a substantial outlier in the graph that would affect the average too much. 

    A DARK DAY IN 2009 WHEN the Advertisements nosedived in, after everyone was made redundant as a result of the GFC, and the vacancy of those jobs were no longer available.

    The vacancy trend picked up again in 2010, staying just above the advertisements, and mirroring its trend from 1.5% of the labour force to just above one percent in present day.  A TREMENDOUS VICTORY FOR THE GOVERNMENT, BUSINESS AND THE INDIVIDUALS THAT MAKE UP THE ECONOMY AS A WHOLE. THE WORKING CLASS. THE COUNCIL WORKERS AND THE JOE BLOW FROM FRIENDLY GROCER.

    This is a tremendous story, cohesively highlighting the economical and unemployment  trends experienced by Australia, and allegorically represents a microcosm of an economy experiencing the fluctuation in job vacancies whilst fighting to keep unemployment at a controlled level. 

  2. If only Education was like West Wing: what I learned by studying Advanced Pedagogy at uni (M.Ed)

    19 October 2013 by shartley

    I love the television show West Wing.  The fictional government was ethically sound and tried to unite the country by attending the needs of the marginalised, the poor and the society as a whole.  If only we had a government like that.

    Education has become inextricably linked to economic ideals and this has a large impact on curriculum and pedagogy.  One area where this is evident is in the “choice, competition and performance” promoted by politicians (Buchanan 2011, p.68) and I’m guilty of shopping for schools for my own son currently, as one of the financially advantaged who can do so.  Another example of economic prominence in education is how students are continually viewed as a labour resource with a desire for individual success rather than as participants in a community.  As Wyn (2009) claims, “Education must accommodate individual and social goals” (p.43).

    I am an advocate for the type of pedagogical change Kalantzis and Cope (2012) promote for schools with their concept of “learning design” that examines “the big questions” (p.84) in an environment of “energetic intellectual inquiry and practical solution development” (p.86).  Thooman et al (2011) found it is important to connect to students and create positive collaborative experiences, “education should provide students with opportunities to work on realistic and situated activities” (p.356) which supports my motto of ‘keeping it real’.  National curriculum and its General Capabilities (ACARA 2011) provide a strong prospect to shift teaching from an industrial learning model to a student-centred thinking model which is the position we’re taking at my school.  Next year as national curriculum is introduced, I am helping teachers to implement our REAL (Relevant, Engaging, Active Learning) Program to Year 7, a student-centred concept, as part of my role on the Innovative Learning Team.

    There is an extraordinary amount of political rhetoric surrounding ICT in schools as revealed by Jordan (2011), some of which I readily accept as universal truths, such as how ICT drives change, but the main point where I am in agreement with Jordan is her criticism of students as being described as “digitally savvy” (p.245).  The nature and implications of ICT in education are changing rapidly and nobody is able to keep abreast of it all.  Further pressure on teachers come in the form of charismatic speakers on the education circuit such as Sir Ken Robinson and Sugata Mitra criticising the current methods of teaching and promoting their own pedagogical agenda.

    This rhetoric and economic overdrive affects teachers immensely.  I thus have an ongoing concern about how a pedagogical paradigm shift is integrated into schools.  Too often structural change is forced onto teachers instead of in consultation and students are neglected altogether (McGregor 2011, p.15), making them both feel powerless.  O’Sullivan (2007) demonstrated how teachers are tied to their role emotionally, more than to their professional pride in intelligence and ability (p.9).  Thoonan et al (2011) acknowledged the role teacher self-efficacy had in motivating students. An analysis of teaching standards by Connell (2009) revealed the absence of recognition of the sheer energy required to teach, “Energy, movement, expression and fatigue all matter” (p.220).  Teachers need to be supported and be involved in the change process for it to be successful.

    Education needs to be like West Wing where idealism is implemented for the individuals who constitute the education community and the good of society as a whole.

    Reference List

    ACARA (2011). General capabilities. Retrieved from

    Buchanan, R. (2011). Paradox, Promise and Public Pedagogy: Implications of the Federal Government’s Digital Education Revolution. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 36(2), 67-77. DOI: 10.14221/ajte2011v36n2.6

    Connell, R (2009) ‘Good teachers on dangerous ground: towards a new view of teacher quality and professionalism’, Critical Studies in Education, 50.3, 213-229.

    Jordan, K. (2011). Framing ICT, teachers and learners in Australian school education ICT policy. Australian Educational Researcher, 38(4), 417-431.

    Kalantzis, M and Cope, B (2012) ‘New learning: A charter for change in education’, Critical Studies in Education, 53:1, 83-94.

    McGregor, G. (2011). Engaging Gen Y in schooling: the need for an egalitarian ethos of education. Pedagogy, Culture and Society, 19(1), 1-20.

    O’Sullivan, K (2007) ‘Unmasking the Professional Identities of English Teachers’, International Journal of Educational Practice and Theory, 29(1), 6–5.

    Thoonen, E, Sleegers, P, Peetsma, T and Oort, F. (2011). Can Teachers Motivate Students to Learn? Educational Studies, 37(3), 345-360

    Wyn, J. (2009). Touching the Future: Building Skills for Life and Work. Australian Education Review, 55, Australian Council for Educational Research, Melbourne.


  3. Protectionism Game (role play)

    7 November 2012 by shartley

    Another experiment with my HSC Economics class.

    On the drive to school I had an idea for a ProtectionismGame:


    I had to remove two of the fours from the selection of cards due to absent students but overall it went well.  The students were happy to work in their random pairs and they prepared their arguments well.  Other than the Lego cars (which I unfortunately forgot to photograph) I had some sugar sachets and fake money as props.


    The negotiation role plays went well.  I believe the students will remember the ones they had to prepare and deliver but there was an issue with them following other negotiations occurring.

    At the end we did a debrief and went through the graphs that relate to subsidies, tariffs and quotas.  I think the best value they gained from the game was experiencing the different perspectives of the players involved and thus also having some idea of how FTAs are negotiated.

    I’m counting this one as a success.

  4. Pretend I’m not here

    7 November 2012 by shartley

    Once a week I have a horrible room for teaching HSC Economics so it has become known as the room for listening or chalk ‘n’ talk to use the old language.  A couple of weeks ago I provided resources and left them to devise their own lesson.  The resources were the syllabus outcomes for the topic and an article questioning the use of GDP and the instruction was to plan and conduct their own lesson:

    Pretend I’m not here.

    I had hoped they would have a discussion based on the article but instead they reverted to individual learning, highlighting text and completing other set tasks online, in the quietest environment I’ve ever seen for this class.  I tweeted the whole experience:

    Some of the Tweets during the lesson.

    They were confused by my instruction as to whether it meant individually devise their own lesson or collectively.  When I added to the instruction to make it clear it was supposed to be a collective exercise it didn’t change anything.  There were mutters about their desire to be ‘taught’ and how our school over-emphasises innovation.

    Towards the end of the lesson some pair work occurred while others just counted down the minutes (not usual).

    In the debrief there was a comment that they worked individually so they could work at their own pace.  They want to plough through the material with what I refer to as the ‘tick box’ mentality, only focusing on what they HAVE to know for the HSC, rather than having an enquiry approach or making the process interesting.  Only one student demonstrated deep learning from the article.

    I love working at a school where there is freedom to take such risks.

  5. HSC Economics Revision Matrix

    22 August 2010 by shartley

    Inspired by my school’s implementation of matrix programs for Years 5-8 and the Principal using one for a Professional Development session (see earlier blog post), I created a Matrix (hyperlinked) for revising HSC Economics.

  6. One student’s opinion and questions about the mining industry and Australia’s economy

    10 August 2010 by shartley

    This is a direct copy from an email I received from a student last night.  It would be great if you could comment on what she has to say and the questions she asks.

    – The Australian economic situation is extremely threatened by the lack of security resulting from the mining boom. Increased growth of the mining sector, estimated to be that of greater than 3 per cent, i expected to encourage economic growth for the economy over the next few years, resulting in a redistribution of resources towards mining based industry. This is good on the surface as it promotes Australia’s comparative advantage of commodity based exports; however what if this is Australia’s primary source of growth. If other sectors of the economy, such as tourism and manufacturing for example have relatively small or limited growth in comparison to these mining giants, we are left with a two speed economy.

    This means that:

    – Excessive growth from the mining sector places upwards pressure on inflation, as a result of demand pull inflation.

    – Increases of real incomes also results in greater spending thereby increasing inflationary pressures.

    – Global confidence in the Australian economy promotes an appreciation of the Australian dollar, therefore imports become less expensive as purchasing power increases and greater inflationary pressure is generated from the exchange market.

    So generally there is alot of inflationary pressure as a result of this mining boom, and this isn’t a problem when you consider that small amounts of inflation 2-3% are considered healthy. BUT: How do you control inflation.

    In the two speed economy, consisting of the mining related sectors and pretty much the rest of the country, the substantially different growth rates will both be affected by any anti-inflationary measures.

    – If you increase interest rates, you are potentially damaging the less-profitable sectors of society, undermining the basic necessities and thereby standards of living of communities and causing greater cost-push inflation within these sectors.

    Therefore: the customary tools of controlling the economy become nullified. We need new measures to control this economy that is leading to gross discrepancies in the distribution of income and wealth.

    The Labor Party suggested we impose a super-tax on the mining industry’s profits, however this is equally useless in providing stable economic growth as it undermines the industry in which Australia has the greatest comparative advantage. Royalties however, do need to be redirected from the states to national government unless income inequality is to grow even further. How do you promote stable economic growth throughout all of Australia to ensure that the government’s instruments of economic management remain useful? Microeconomic reform is perhaps the most likely answer, thereby encouraging the other sectors of the economy to catch up to the growth experienced in the mining sector, but this may take up to 20 years to take effect? By that stage the disparity between the mining sector and other sectors growth could be astronomical! Perhaps we should adopt protectionist measures to ensure the growth of domestic businesses in conjunction with the mining boom? But this has! proved to in fact stunt economic growth in the past. What is the answer? How do you maintain economic growth in an economic climate as geographically dominant as Australia, without waving the white flag to inflation and the two speed economy??

  7. Keeping it Real

    9 January 2010 by shartley

    When I started teaching six years ago, having previously been in the corporate world, I was keen to show students, particularly in Business Studies, the real world, beyond the textbook.  The students were bemused by my approach of constantly showing via the web how real businesses and other institutions actually operated.  The textbook is great for providing neat answers in the structure of the syllabus, particularly for exam preparation, but for real life learning we need to go far beyond the books.  Textbooks are ideal for students who are good at memorising and regurgitating information for exams that are merely a passport for the next stage of study in life.  Not that this works for all subjects.  In Economics I keep telling my students that memorising the textbook will only give them a mark up to 80% because they need to demonstrate analysis and informed opinion to achieve any higher.  However, education at all levels should be about learning for life and about life and not be just about final results in the HSC and equivalent ‘finals’.

    Real life now involves various forms of social media.  I joined Twitter at the start of 2009 but didn’t actually participate until about half way through the year.  I also use Facebook but purely as a social network.  Twitter is my professional network.  At times it is overwhelming due to how much knowledge other educators in the world have about various web applications and how to use them in the classroom, plus the time they have to post about it, not only on Twitter but through blogs too.  I often feel guilty that I am merely a Twitter trawler since I retrieve so much information from it while giving very little back.  When I do give back, it sometimes feels I am speaking to a void, but not for long.

    The biggest impact Twitter has had on my classroom so far is an idea I had to connect students in my Society and Culture class with Vietnamese students to help them with a case study they were doing on various aspects of life in Vietnam.  Through the retweets of some of my followers and the consequent passing on of names of teachers in Vietnam I was connected with a teacher in Hanoi.  He established a blog where my students and a class within his school introduced themselves to each other before my students asked questions relevant to their case study.  It has been very exciting to see the project start to unfold.  Two of the Vietnamese students expressed very different opinions about the role of power and authority in both schools and government within Vietnam in response to a question from one of my students.  It showed my students different perspectives that they could never learn from a textbook or an official information website.  At the moment we are keeping the blog private since the students are still learning about appropriate use of blogs, not that there have been any problems to date.  However, it has stalled momentarily due to Australia’s summer holidays.  I’m looking forward to the return of school to move it along further.  This is the third time I have taught this unit but it is the first time it has sparked a desire in me to visit Vietnam.  The personal touch really does have an amazing effect.

    The same class also has a public blog to maintain a journal for their Personal Interest Project.  It opens up an opportunity for them to receive feedback about their ideas.  Again, Twitter has been the means for finding the few people who have provided some very constructive thoughts for my students.

    The next exciting project that has come from Twitter was purely by accident in the last few hours.  I was merely thinking out loud and feeling silly for posting it at all when I typed in exactly the maximum 140 characters: Thinking about teaching research methodologies by having Yr 12 students film 30 sec demos of each method with target audience of new Yr 11s. Within minutes a teacher from the USA sent me a direct message offering his 14 year old students as a target audience.  We have set a date for late February for my students to have the videos ready.

    I am constantly astounded by the connections I make and this is despite having fewer than 150 followers, a small number compared to some of the educators I follow with 1000s of followers.  Through Twitter I also discover new resources, many of which I won’t ever use but some I will and as a result my students will also expand their learning.  I can spend hours every day just reading posts and the weblinks they contain but I need to just opt in and out as I want and not become obsessive about it.  I had a few weeks over Christmas where I didn’t do any work for school so I also chose not to touch Twitter either.  I came back refreshed.  I once showed my Society and Culture students how I use Twitter and one asked, “Do you ever sleep?”  I laughed and said I didn’t sleep enough but asked if she reads everything posted on Facebook, her main online social medium.  She doesn’t.

    Twitter is an amazing resource helping me to create an environment of authentic learning.  In just over two weeks I will be back in the classroom after a long summer holiday, armed with new ideas and excited by the prospects they hold.  Stay tuned to see how they go.

  8. Is loud learning better than quiet obedience?

    8 October 2009 by shartley

    [The above heading was inspired by a post during Twitter #edchat 6 Oct.]

    It took me a while to let go of control in the classroom.  But really, I had to have control before I could let go of it.  But then am I really losing control, or just utilising it better?

    When I first started teaching Year 10 Commerce I would attempt to have quiet and students would take lots of notes from the board.  As I became more comfortable with the class I increasingly used a data projector hooked to my lap-top to show students relevant websites and real-life examples of what we were studying.  The first time I borrowed the projector and its bag of cords from the school library a student had to set it up for me.  The next two years I taught him Economics, but not being the sharpest tool in the shed, he was bottom of the class.  Yet, he was always endearing and we had a good relationship.  With the benefit of scaling he scraped a pass in Economics in the HSC.  That was 3 years ago.  I was at a gig the other night when a drunken voice called, “Hello Mrs Hartley” and we caught up again. The boy who was second last in that Economics class was also with him. It was an embarrassing but nice moment.

    But back to technology and teaching.  I was rewarded for attempting to use technology in my lessons by being timetabled into computer labs and the more the school installed them the more lab time I was allocated.  Now my Commerce classes are always in a computer room.  It is an extremely noisy room with lots of different activities occurring.  At the end of the term I bought display folders, stuck in a contents page in each (what they should have achieved) and the students printed out their work for themselves and for their parents to take pride in their achievements (required parent sign-off).  The students were really excited to see all they had done during the term. There was a real buzz in the classroom, even from the students who were madly trying to catch-up on neglected work. Now I have been on Twitter I know I can probably find a way to do this electronically, paperless.

    I mostly guide, rather than teach.

    BUT there is a teacher who teaches the same course as me but in an entirely different manner.  He is the old chalk ‘n’ talk style but the students sit quietly and adore him, as do I (I don’t know anyone with more grace).  I just hope that my noisy classroom teaches skills as well as knowledge and understanding.

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