Is Economics Essential

You have probably heard the terms “wholesale” and “retail” thrown around before, but do you know the difference between the two? This question was recently posed in Mr. Lamont’s World and the West class, and only a handful of students were understood the difference between the two. Such a lack of understanding of everyday terminology suggests that we as a community have much to learn about economics.

Currently, excepting Ms. Wallace’s Intro to Macroeconomics class, Groton lacks a full-fledged  course in the subject. There are those who believe that Groton is fine without one; According to Ms. Wallace, students are “not ‘behind’ if [they] don’t take it in high school,” because she believes that high school economics courses are a poor preparation for more in-depth college course material. Furthermore, Ms. Wallace believes that even offering a rigorous and difficult AP Economics course at Groton would be ineffective due to a lack of faculty available to teach and would not prepare students for coursework in college.

However, there are many points which argue for a basic course on economics, showing that it would be valuable to Groton students. Drew Bassilakis ‘16 describes the knowledge of economics as a “fundamental skill that can be useful in the future for us, whether it be starting our own businesses or just as a regular worker who wants to know a bit more about how business specifically works.” Beyond its value in the future, Drew emphasizes how basic knowledge of economics enhances our learning experience: “… what we learn [in economics] helps us, in a way, to understand the context and past of our world today.” Ms. Wallace says of her Intro to Macroeconomics course that “the best reason to take it is to better understand some of the economic forces in history, and it can be a nice companion to either World and the West or American History”.

Perhaps the most important thing to consider while debating the importance of economics is  its role in politics, as basic knowledge in economics is essential in order for any voting citizen to make good decisions. Peter Nam ‘15 says, “I think economics is a basic subject you need to know to at least vote…people are going to vote when they grow up, and if they don’t know the basics of economics they’ll make bad choices when they vote.” As one of the top high schools in the country, Groton has an obligation to provide students with the knowledge to be able to vote intelligently, which is another reason why we should institute a full-fledged economics course.

Currently at Groton, there are a few technical difficulties in the way of adding a basic economics class. The Second Form curriculum would be the most likely target for an introductory class providing the basics of economics, while  higher forms would have a more difficult time  adding a course to their schedule. In past years, the U.S. History course held five blocks a week, but currently uses only four blocks, and teachers of the course find it harder to fit all of the material into this smaller time frame. A potential incentive to bring back the five block per week schedule would be that if the fifth block was devoted to a basic study of economics, Groton could incorporate economics back into the curriculum.

Nevertheless, if a solution presents itself towards solving the scheduling and staffing issues, it is doubtless in the school’s best interests to provide its students with an economics class.  Ms. Wallace remarks that “in twenty years, what we believe about the ‘principles of macroeconomics’ may change entirely.” Groton also prides itself in preparing its students for “the active work of life” and promoting public service, yet we omit a concept so crucial for many government positions or powerful jobs.  Due to this ever-changing landscape of how we define economics and the importance of economics in an ever-changing world, it is essential that Groton offer the opportunity to prepare students for future success by offering economics.

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