"Economics is political" : Preservice teachers, purpose, and the challenges of critical economics pedagogy




Shanks, Neil Graham

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Economics education is an understudied discipline within social studies, yet the discipline of economics holds an outsize import in political decisions. Teachers are largely ill-prepared to teach economics as part of social studies, and students of economics report feeling disconnected from the traditional economic content. This qualitative case study explored the way that preservice teachers in an Urban Teaching program conceptualized the purpose of economics within social studies education, its role as part of their purpose for teaching, and how they implemented their understanding of the function of economics into their instructional decisions. Using a theoretical lens that merged critical pedagogy and transformative purpose within the disciplinary confines of economics, this study demonstrates several significant disjunctures between how economics is perceived to function and critical approaches to teaching and teaching social studies. In particular, economics was perceived to function in the present and for the purpose of social analysis, yet teaching was about social analysis, transformative classroom management, and praxis; and teaching social studies was about understanding the past, social analysis in the present and critical action for the future. However, the study also revealed the potential of economics as part of a transformative purpose for teaching.


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