Letter From the Director
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.
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!