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Wed 9th August 2017

CORE breaks down old-fashioned chalk-and-talk in a girls’ high school in New South Wales, and is stimulating more girls to be interested in economics

Type of institution: School
Location: Burwood, NSW, Australia
Course: Higher School Certificate
Department: Economics
Number of students: 100

At Burwood High School for Girls in Australia, where the motto is ‘Not for ourselves alone’, economics teacher Leith Thompson wanted to show her pupils that high school economics is part of a bigger picture. Specifically, that means attracting more students in Australia, to study economics, and making sure that enough of these students are girls.

‘I wanted to help young women understand that economics is the language of power, public policy and change, and show them how it relates to the real world. This has often been lacking in high school economics resources and teaching in our country,’ she says.

Having been was recently awarded the 2016 Premier’s Reserve Bank Economics Scholarship to study gender-inclusive, innovative pedagogy, for which she visited schools, universities and central banks in the US and UK, Ms Thompson is in a good position to evaluate the influence of CORE on her pupils, having adapted some of the units to extend their school syllabus.

‘One of my research topics is to explore whether traditional ‘chalk and talk’ teaching is more suitable for male than female students, and that more collaborative teaching methods have a place in the classroom,’ she explains. There’s evidence that girls more suited to – and want – the opportunity to work together with their teachers, instead of sitting as passive listeners in front of them. CORE offered this, by inviting her class to take part in CORE activities, debating with each other, combining their effort to use economics to get to the bottom of real, difficult, and ethical questions, without a clear right or wrong answer.

‘CORE is great for students who learn better when the theory is applied to the real world. That is, most students, if not all,’ she says, ‘The relationship between CORE and the real world is that much more overt, to make economics a much more ‘living’ and relevant study.’

Ms Thompson could set CORE as outside reading, and concentrate on active work in class. At first, Ms Thompson was reluctant to have her students log on to CORE’s online platform, preferring to direct their study. But from 2017 they will create their own login, and access the information relevant to the topics they study from CORE’s additional resources.

Making the lessons more active had unexpected benefits. Free access to the online platform meant that those who wanted to pursue their interests could. This, in turn, gave them greater autonomy in the classroom. Girls went on to pursue topics covered in class in their own time, using CORE resources to form their own opinions. ‘Pupils would go home and flip the classroom lesson. It also meant that in lesson themselves, pupils weren’t just listening, but contributing,’ Ms Thompson explains.

Pupils would go home and flip the classroom lesson. It also meant that in lesson themselves, pupils weren’t just listening, but contributing

She argues that CORE’s The Economy will help young women ‘understand that economics is the language of power, public policy and change,’ and prepares her students for their own role in that economy. In doing that, CORE’s flexibility was her greatest asset:
‘I used the activities, videos and classroom games to explain concepts and bring them to life. CORE is a valuable tool for enabling greater active learning in the classroom.’