LKG Leövey Klára Gimnázium / Projektek

Economics Education In Leövey Klára Secondary Grammar School

The subject "Introduction to Economics" has been taught since 1995 as an elective subject in the 11th and 12th grade. The administration of the school sensed that the demand for practical economic education had been in the air for a while and thought that the first steps should be taken by the school. That is why, unlike in the case of other elective subjects, five students' application was the bottom limit to start this kind of education. For the teaching of the subject, a former student of the school, Szomor Tamás, was asked, who was known to have been teaching similar subjects in other secondary schools.
In the first year the lessons were in an early morning (zero) and an afternoon lesson. The awkward time and the small number of the students did not make it possible apply in practice the active learning methods and group work already widespread in economic and entrepreneur trainings. Out of the five students one decided to take the final exam above the five compulsory subjects in this subject too after learning it for two years. From the second year the practice has been to have the lessons in a 90 minute session as the 7th and 8th lesson of the day.

In the recent years the number of students who have chosen this elective subject has been growing and most of them have taken the final exam in the subject. (The present educational law allows the student to take final exam in any subject that they have learnt for at least two years two lessons a week.) In 2002 17, in 2003 21 students took the final exam in economics. The number of students taking the final exam was111, so nearly one fifth of them (18.92%) chose economics as their fifth subject in the final exam. This number for the other elective (fifth) subject were: 4 students in music, 6 in art, 7 in informatics and 10 in psychology. In the school year 2002/2003 forty 11 graders attended the lessons so even more students are expected to take the final exam in economics next year.

What the administration of the school expects from the subjects is that it satisfies the interests of those students who are interested in economy-related topics, helping them to decide whether they would like to continue their further studies in this direction or not. What followed from this expectation was that it was not a preparatory course for the entrance exam of higher education institutes and the curriculum was not equivalent with the 'Economics' subject of the economics comprehensive secondary schools. The compilation of the curriculum was assigned to the teacher himself. According to the practice of the recent years, the students in their first years of economic studies (11 graders) can choose if they would like to participate in the Young Enterprise (YE) student programme, or get acquainted with the basics of economics with the help of the situational tasks, "economic games" based on active learning methods, which were domesticated by SEED Small Enterprise Developing Foundation. (Within one school year only one of the methods can be chosen based on the choice of the majority in the group. This choice is determined by the aptitudes of the students entering the course: the braver, more active groups decide on the YE, while those longing for a more theoretical education, the ones afraid of novelties, and the lazier ones are likely to choose the latter method, which does not go beyond the compulsory number of lessons. Even when there are not enterprises created by the student, they temporarily set up a group to handle tasks, such as making a buffet for a school event. The school administration usually ask the students of our group to volunteer for such tasks.)

In the school year 2002/2003 4 YE enterprise were working in the 11th grade. The meetings of the 'companies' were the lessons themselves with the teacher being the consultant of the companies.
In the 12th grade the students learn from the course book entitled 'Applied Economics' published by the Junior Achievement Magyarország Foundation. At the final exam the students pick up one of the 20 topics compiled by the teacher. The topics are based on the course book. They can be grouped around the most important participants of the economy. For example, in connection with households the students learn about the importance of family budget, the kinds of savings, the questions of customer protection. In connection with enterprises they learn about the questions of the founding, financing and marketing of a successful company and in connection with the state about the economic role of the state, monetary politics and economic policy questions. In the topic of macro economy they learn about the roles of a central bank, the economic integrations, the differences between the socialist and free market economies, and about the economical development of Hungary after the World War II.

The lessons regularly start with the questions of the students. It is usually in connection with the analysis of a current economical topic presented in the media as well or they are interested in the opinion of the teacher. For example, in the beginning of 2003 they were asking about reasons of the changes of oil prices, and the economical advantages and disadvantages of entering the EC, the large scale closing of factories, the handling of the problem of homeless people, and the competition between the commercial TV channels.

In January 2003 because of the modification of the laws concerning the GSCE the school has to make a decision about the teaching of the subject. From 2005 on students can only take their final exams in subjects which are based on general requirements or are accredited. This will take effect in the case of the students who are in the 10th year of their studies in the school year 2002/2003. The elective subjects are announced for the following year at the beginning of the second term and the applications are done by the spring break. That is why it was a crucial decision to make already in January which elective subjects to offer. The problem arose concerning the 'Introduction to Economics' subject because at the time of the decision there were no elaborate general exam requirements and there were no accredited requirements worked out either. (The general exam requirements were made public in the forms of laws in the government act of 100/1997 (June 13th ) entitled 'About the publication of exam regulations of GCSE' and in its modification. The act does not regulate the way the accredited subjects exam requirements will be published.)

In this situation the school had three options. The first option was that the school will have the exam requirements to be made accredited. In this case there will be no changes made in the present requirements. The second option was to organise the exam according to the requirements to be accredited by the Junior Achievement Magyarország Foundation, which would not make much difference from the present ones (since the final exam is based on the educational materials of the Foundation). The third option was that the school prepares the students for the final exam based on the general requirements of the subject 'Sociological studies'. Which was included in the general requirements published by the ministry. The latter option would bring significant changes as the 'economics' does not cover the whole range of the topics prescribed in the requirements of 'Sociological studies'. Most of the topics are within the range of sociology which is absolutely different from the topics have been taught so far in lessons of the elective subject of 'economics'. The decision was easy to make as the school did not have 200.000 to spare on the accreditation process. The school did not want to risk that either the ministry or the Foundation (JAM) compiles the requirements needed, after the education has already been started in the form of the earlier practice. As a result of this the school chose the third option, that is, the school after detailed discussion with the appointed teacher will announce the former elective subject ('Introduction to Economics') under the new name 'Sociological studies'

In the spring of 2003 only 5 students applied for the new subject, so in the school year 2003/2004 the lessons could only be started with special support by the maintainer.

Tamás Szomor

Related links:
     Article about our school in the "Új Pedagógiai Szemle" (Pedagogical Journal)
     Young Enterprise Foundation
     Young Enterprise UK
     Christmas Fair

© LKG, 2002.