Weebly is better than GDP

Cover of "Economics"

Cover of Economics

How often do you sit over a cup of coffee, tea, a glass of pinot noir or a good belgian quadruple ale and contemplate the components of the U.S. GDP? How many people know what the four components of GDP are? Do the headline GDP growth rate figures even really matter since the final revised figures don’t show up until a year later? Do you need to know that the estimated GDP growth rate for the second quarter 2012 was only 1.2% according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis* to know that economic growth is anemic? Does GDP chatter make your eyes glaze over? Try teaching this stuff to a bunch of 17 and 18 year olds.

Economics can be a pretty dry subject for high school students, highly theoretical with little relevance to motivate them to attend to the concepts being presented. So what do we econ teachers add to the mix to make the subject more fun? We can play the stock market game and show E-Trade baby commercials. We can assign a project that places students into groups as “families” and have them try to manage a family budget (leads to hilarious arguments). We can play trading games to show how markets discover value (leads to hilarious arguments). All of these activities are worthwhile and expose students to some real world applications of economic concepts. But they fall short of one highly important, central concern. How does this stuff help me make a buck? Kind of funny that a subject which studies the disposition of scarce resources (for example, money) doesn’t really address how economic theory is useful for actually maximizing one’s scarce resources, namely money. Maybe it’s not all that useful on a macroeconomic level.

In a previous post, the topic was the need for some practical business education to be added to our secondary curriculum. The economics text book is not going to be helpful in this regard. There is an entire chapter devoted to marketing without a single mention of the importance of social media as a major vehicle for creating and transforming your brand, shaping consumer perceptions and making the all important personal connections to customers. The book is teaching marketing circa 1975. So I’ve pulled articles from the web, showed students what I’m doing with my blog and have had them create their own business websites on Weebly. Lo and behold they get it! Many of them really enjoyed making their own websites for everything from skater shops to sound engineering studios to ballet lessons. But the lessons being learned go even beyond that.

One of my econ students is a tall, lovely young woman who aspires to a career in modeling and fashion design. She has been devouring information concerning entrepreneurship, marketing using social media, and website creation that we’ve been using in class. With excitement beaming from her face she and I discussed how she could use her Facebook page to publish videos of her giving her friends professional fashion and make-up advice at the mall since she is already the go to for fashion consultation for many in her social circles. Her fashion advice videos would become a regular feature on her Facebook page. She also wants to know how to use Twitter to post links to articles on the fashion industry. The next step will be to discuss how best to use a blog site like Tumblr to display her growth and knowledge of fashion and fashion design. For a student like her who wants to attend the Fashion Institute she is already well ahead of the game. One more thing – she said,”I’ve cleaned up my Facebook page.” How many 18 year olds understand the significance of their online persona to that extent? I was so proud.

Do I still have to teach her and the others about GDP? Well, yes. But now I can throw it in amongst some things these kids really find exciting and useful. If I could only do this with algebra.

*http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/national/gdp/gdp_glance.htm

Maybe not so related. But, hey, put a bunny in your IRA. Couldn’t hurt.

7 Comments ↓

7 Comments on “Weebly is better than GDP”

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