Exploring economics at 100

Each year when we explore the idea of a special issue focusing on a subject within the school curriculum, we begin with a sense that we can actually contain the various strands of that discipline within the 100-odd pages of our magazine. And each year, we discover how wrong we are, how hopeful, and how absolutely off the mark. We write to scores of people, get responses from about 50 percent of them, promises from maybe 30 percent, and about half of those commitments are met in the form of articles. And even if each one of those who promised a piece of knowledge is able to meet the deadline, we would still be short of our goal of covering the subject to satisfaction.

However, what we do manage to do is by no means small. By the end of this exercise, we are able to pull together an impressive set of ideas, activities, and backgrounders that offer teachers of the subject – and others – a valuable resource kit. We’re extremely grateful to all our contributors for helping us do that.

Drawing the boundaries of any discipline is a difficult task. And in the case of economics, which permeates so much of our lives, it is near impossible. Even as we have an impressive lineup of pieces in this issue, we realize there is so much we have not been able to touch upon. One important, and regrettable, gap, is the link between art and economics, or how the market shapes our aesthetic preferences. Newer ways of thinking about economics – behavioural aspects, game theory, simulation, international markets and currencies – have only found brief mention and deserve much deeper reflection and exploration. After all, as a US presidential candidate’s campaign slogan had it, “It’s the economy, stupid!” The economy is indeed fundamental to so much of modern life, at the personal, political, civic, and organizational levels.

Because of this, we believe that the study of economics should not be restricted to those who take it up as an elective or a major, but that we should all acquire a basic understanding of its principles. While some of the articles in our selection focus on principles in a way that relates to the curriculum, several of them have a general appeal, and can enable any teacher – or reader – to understand what lies beneath some of the economic jargon that appears in our daily newspapers.

This is also the 100th monthly issue of Teacher Plus, and we offer a small tribute to some of the writers who help keep us going, month to month, issue to issue. Many, many individuals have contributed to the knowledge bank that Teacher Plus has become, and we are indeed grateful to all of them. But we’ve drawn together mini-profiles of a mere dozen stalwarts whose ideas have made the magazine what it is today. We hope our readers enjoy the opportunity to get to know some of our writers a little more than the single-line description that accompanies their articles.

It continues to be an exciting journey for us…and we hope it is for you too!