National Economics Challenge Elevates The Need For An Education In Economics

Lili | May 24, 2019 | 0 | Education

National Final Quiz Bowl round, hosted by CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin.

Economics is one of those subjects that usually falls outside of the high school core academic subject areas (english, math, history, science and foreign language). It’s typically an elective for most high school students and not necessary to graduate high school. In fact, only 22 states require high school students to take a course in economics. The Council for Economic Education (CEE) is working to change that. The CEE’s mission is to teach kids about economics and finance so they can make better decisions for themselves, their families and their communities. Although many students aren’t learning it in the classroom, the CEE has found a way to teach them economics through their annual National Economics Challenge (NEC).

For 19 years, the NEC has been recognizing exceptional high school students for their knowledge of economic principles and their ability to apply problem-solving and critical-thinking skills to real-world events. The competition covers microeconomics, macroeconomics, international and current events in both critical thinking and quiz bowl rounds, and students compete in one of either two divisions depending on their level of experience. More than 10,000 students competed this year, with the exciting final round concluding on May 20th in New York City, where Mount Hebron High School from Ellicott City, Md. won both divisions of the competition.

The NEC fills a huge gap in these high school students educations. Some may think economics is just pie charts and statistics, not needed unless you plan to be an economist. However. the students who participate in this competition know this couldn’t be father from the truth; they are now armed with valuable real-world tools and skills that will be used throughout their lives.

So what does economics teach us, and why is it so important to understand?

  • Decision-making: Nan Morrison, President and CEO of the CEE, sums up economics as the study of how people make decisions. Morrison explains how the ability to make good decisions is vital to the success of every adult – whether it be in a business setting or in their personal lives. “If a student learns how to make good decisions, they can apply those principles as they face decisions such as where to go school, or when and how to make a major purchase. Those tenets of good decision-making are all based around economics.”
  • Resources and Scarcity: At every level there are choices to be made about how to use resources, because usually there’s not enough money in our budgets to do everything we want. Families must decide if they will take a vacation or save for college. Towns make decisions whether to fund schools, the police force or the town’s infrastructure. Countries must decide if they will put their budget towards healthcare, the environment or defense. These are decisions made everyday and at every level to try to improve lives with the resources we have.

  • Business Concepts: Business is all around us; we work for businesses and we pay them everyday for their products and services. Economics study business and finance concepts like pricing, opportunity cost (the advantages and disadvantages of our decisions), supply and demand, competition and negotiation. Whether we work in business or just use their products, it’s necessary to have a basic understanding of these business and financial concepts to make smart decisions.

  • Personal Finance: With consumer debt at an all time high around $4 trillion dollars, and most not having enough savings to cover retirement, we clearly need a better comprehension of personal finance. By providing an understanding of financial decision making, debt and wages, economics will encourage financial awareness and responsibility among consumers.
  • Politics, Policies and Issues: Economic literacy gives people the tools for understanding how the world works. Economics addresses questions and issues around healthcare, investments, trade, immigration, real estate, business, crime, pollution, welfare and school reform. Everyone benefits from economic literacy. Morrison explains that understanding economics improves the public’s ability to understand, and communicate on the important issues we face today. “Economics is critical to understanding the policies and politics that govern our world. The issues today are complex, and having conversations around them are difficult. If we had the right language and tools to have these conversations, we could have more intelligent and thoughtful discussions, and maybe have less anger and strife.”


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