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Letter From the Director

The Bessie B. Moore Center for Economic Educationhelping you and your students make better decisions.

 

Rita L. Littrell Director, Bessie Moore Center for Economic

Mission:  The Bessie Moore Center for Economic Education is dedicated to promoting understanding of the American economic system by citizens of Arkansas.  The ultimate goal is to train our young people in elementary and secondary schools.  We believe that this can only be done by training teachers, giving them effective curriculum materials and engendering in them an enthusiasm for teaching economics.   

 

History:  The Moore Center has been working in economic education since 1979, training teachers, developing curriculum materials, conducting research and consulting with school districts.  The Center is recognized as a national leader in economic education.  They are affiliated with the Economics Arkansas and the Council for Economic Education.  They have received national recognition for their programs and have helped numerous teachers win state and national recognition.  The BMCEE participates in many Economics International programs to strengthen economic education delivery in transitional economies.  Much has been accomplished but even more needs to be done.      

 

Current Initiatives:  Economics is everywhere!  The Bessie B. Moore Center for Economic Education customizes programs of economics into many specialty areas such as personal financial literacy; youth entrepreneurship; globalization; economics for the ESOL learner; and using technology to teach economics.  As statewide and educational needs change, so does our program focus and curriculum development.  Recent curriculum and program development focus has been in Arkansas history, children’s literature, and youth entrepreneurship – especially social entrepreneurship.  All of this is done utilizing current communications technology.

 

  1. Economic Dimensions of Arkansas History:  Schools and teachers are always looking for quality materials to teach Arkansas history.  The answer to the question about why things happen is either economic or political.  Integrating economics into the study of Arkansas history makes is more relevant and meaningful while giving it more depth.  Through funding for the University of Arkansas Women’s Giving Circle, the Center developed an online Jeopardy format game on Arkansas history.  Students use state road maps as graphic organizers in preparation for game play.  The game is online and ready for class use at any time with no preparation.  We know that teachers’ time is scarce!  In addition, the Arkansas history page is filled with lessons that teachers can use to make the learning Arkansas history fun and engaging!

 

  1. Using Children’s Books to Teach Economics:  This is an ongoing favorite of teachers!  They love to find exciting children’s books that teach complex ideas in a short story.  Teachers of grades K – 12 use these books.  It enables them to teach literacy, social studies, and sometimes science or mathematics all at the same time.

 

  1. Youth Entrepreneurship:  The Center staff was trained by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation on youth entrepreneurship.  They traveled the state for years educating teachers on how to teach students the skills necessary for entrepreneurship. Arkansas is a state rich in entrepreneurial endeavors so the Center developed a curriculum, Entrepreneurship: Arkansas Style that taught the principles of entrepreneurship while profiling exceptional Arkansas entrepreneurs.      

 

  1. Using Technology to Teach Economics:  The Moore Center staff love to learn new ways to communicate ideas for teaching economics!  There is always a new technology being tried.  We recently worked with Economics Arkansas to develop a learning community on Thinkfinity to support communications and idea sharing for teachers of the Arkansas high school economics course.  We have been filming webinars to use as professional development for teachers who are not near a training facility or who want to learn on their own schedule.  We appreciate ideas and feedback on making these tools better.  Please give them a try.  You can find them under professional development.

 

  1. Economics for English for Students of Other Languages: Economics for the ESOL learner is based on needs of the large Hispanic and Marshallese communities that have recently immigrated to Northwest Arkansas.  The center has programs on personal finance, entrepreneurship and the benefits of developing skills for the workplace.  All of these meet specific needs of this population.  Curricula was developed using children’s books that teach Mexican history and culture with lessons that teach economics. Another result was Excellence in Economic Education grant funding to conduct a workshop on Entrepreneurship for the ESL Learner.  This week of entrepreneurship training included minority entrepreneurs as daily speakers as well as hands-on entrepreneurship training.

  2. Personal Financial Literacy:  Financial literacy is a growing field. The Great Recession emphasized the need for American individuals to know how to make good financial decisions.  To do this they must understand our financial system and the resources available to help them reach their financial goals.  We have materials for students K – 12 as well as programs developed for teachers.  In addition, we have online modules to help teachers understand the topic and to teach their students to be financially literate.

 

Economics for Elementary & Secondary Students:  Some people say that economics is just too complicated to teach to pre-college students but they have not been in schools to see economic education in action.  Primary students begin by learning scarcity, choices, opportunity cost, needs and productive resources.   Learning the basic skills of decision-making at this early level serves them well for the rest of their lives.  Secondary students deal with such topics as monetary policy, market failures and international trade.  Since 2011, Arkansas students are now required to take an economics course in high school for graduation.  The Moore Center has played an instrumental role in the training of teachers of this course.

 

The Fourth R:  Economics is the Fourth R of the curriculum: Reading, wRiting, aRithmatic and Rational decision making.  The rational for the inclusion of economics in an already crowded curriculum is persuasive.  All people are personally involved in the economy and they can make more effective day-to-day decisions if they understand economic processes.  Most decisions made in the public arena are economic in nature. Economic understanding makes more effective citizens as they vote and interact with their elected representatives.  Decisions made on a sound economic basis are crucial to a successful democratic government.  Finally, economic knowledge is necessary to understanding the world in which we live.  Such understanding leads to fuller more complete living.

 

Methods:  The methods of economic education are crucial to its success.  From the beginning of our efforts in economic education, the approach has been to integrate, be interactive and involve the community.  Rather than adding another subject to the curriculum, economics can be integrated into reading, writing and mathematics at the elementary level and into social studies, business, family and consumer science, ESOL as well as other areas at the secondary level.  Economics can enrich the other subjects while giving students important life skills.  The way economics is taught is interactive.  Students learn by doing with simulations, games and creative activities rather than lecture.  In many ways economic education has become the model for change in other disciplines. 

 

Community Connections:  Economic education involves students in the community.  Too often students never make the connection with what is going on in the classroom and the world outside the classroom.  By conducting market surveys, interviewing businesses, taking field trips to manufacturing enterprises, and generally studying the local economy, students become connected and involved in the community.

 

Support:  The Bessie B. Moore Center for Economic Education is an outreach program of the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas.  It is housed in the Don W. Reynolds Center for Enterprise Development. The Walton College support makes these programs possible.  Economics Arkansas supports selected workshops and program initiatives.  New partnerships with organizations such as the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank Little Rock Branch, the Arkansas World Trade Center, Garrison Financial Institute, and Heifer International have been very fruitful to expanding program expertise and delivery.  Many thanks to these partners!  

Bessie B. Moore Center for Economic Education
Reynolds Center 217
Fayetteville, AR 72701
(479) 575-2855  p
(479) 575-3463  f