Young people do not learn enough about economics in school2023-09-28
Both as individuals and citizens of society, we are affected by economics in many different ways and through decisions at various levels. This means that knowledge of economics is a prerequisite to be able to participate and live in a democracy in a qualified way. A new doctoral thesis examines what this particularly important knowledge is and how well prepared social studies teachers are to teach this economic content.
So, what type of economic knowledge should schools teach to equip our young people for adulthood? And how should we equip our future teachers to be able to teach this content? The thesis seeks answers to these questions through four separate studies. Two of the studies look at what type of knowledge economic scholars believe social studies should cover and what is covered in textbooks. The other two studies deal with the prerequisites of prospective social studies teachers for teaching economics in upper secondary school. The thesis contributes with knowledge about how pupils can gain access to and be given the opportunity to acquire important and powerful economic knowledge.
"The textbooks need to contain two languages – both an everyday language and the formal language of economics so that the pupils are able to understand it after graduating as well, says Niclas Modig, who recently defended his thesis in Educational Work. That the books I studied generally have an everyday language may be due to the fact that they are written by teachers and not economists. Across the world, economics is generally taught as part of social studies or the equivalent thereof. Social studies teachers struggle with this. They need more experience as part of their teacher training to adequately teach this content. Both through their own knowledge and through study materials."
But what is the situation like today? Do young people in general have insufficient knowledge of economics when they enter society and working life?
"One would assume so. There is research showing that teachers find it difficult to teach economics and that study materials, and even the most up-to-date materials, are limited in terms of economic content. In addition, pupils enrolled in vocational programmes at upper secondary school and who don’t opt for extracurricular courses, only study personal finance."