"Acting as a Moral Human Being - Neglecting Economic Studies". Situation, Concepts and Challenges of Economic Studies at German Primary Schools

  • Birgit Weber

Abstract

Children are affected by poverty, unemployment and pollution; they are a target group for firms. Without doubt they have to deal with the problems of economic allocation, distribution and stabilisation. But children are also individuals with needs and purchasing power, who make economic decisions themselves and influence those of others. Children interpret and construct their own explanations for these phenomena and build their own problem-solving strategies. Do shops create goods themselves? Do banks produce money? Is the function of a bank the protection of money against theft? Does the government tell people which job to do? Can everybody choose what he or she wants? Is a car more expensive than a jumper because it is bigger or because it can be driven? If school is supposed to help children understand and act in the world they are living in, then even at primary school economic world can not be blanked out. The main aim of this contribution is to analyse, if German curricula for primary schools as well as the main association of primary school attach importance to the economic phenomena in a child's world. As these concepts are not developed by experts of economic education but by experts of primary education, I want to contrast these aims with three concepts respectively aims of economic education at primary school developed by experts of economic education. So the extremes can be shown: Which importance could economic education get und which is currently attached. However, also the concepts and aims of constructors of concepts for economic education do not satisfy totally. Either they derive their aims directly from economics as a science or from economic situations children take part or should know about. They draw out what children should know about or what children could do to learn about, seldom is pointed out, what children should be able to understand and responsibly act. Therefore an understanding of children's construction of economic world is necessary. These constructs are analysed by economic psychologists. These results allow referring to the children's naive theories in order to help them understand and act in their economic world. As pure analysis does not satisfy by discovering lacks, I will discuss competences which should be related to the approach of experts of children's education as well as to experts of economic education, taking into account the results of economic psychologists. Finally, without winning the teacher children will not learn anything about economics at school, so I will finish with an approach to win the teachers.
Published
2005-01-10
Section
Article