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A Taste of Business and Economics

20 January 2017

On Wednesday 18th January the Business Studies and Economics department conducted taster lessons for our Year 9 students who are currently in the process of making their IGCSE subject choices. The decision to hold the taster lessons was informed by the fact that the two subjects are not taught at Key Stage 3 and therefore, students lack an understanding of the subject content as well as the difference between the two subjects. It is our hope that the taster lessons will support them in making informed subject choices. 

Below is a brief summary of the teaching and learning activities that took place during the lessons:

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Y9 Taster Lessons: IGCSE Business Studies

 The business world is all around us. From the minute we get up in the morning to when we go to bed at night, we are using things made by businesses around the world. Think about the food you eat, the clothes you wear, the bus or car you came to school in this morning, the music on your iPods/iPhones, even the device on which you are reading this write-up at this very moment – all these were made by businesses.

The Year 9 students were introduced to the basic building blocks of IGCSE Business Studies this week. They learned that businesses provide us (consumers) as well as other businesses (producers) with all the goods and services that we need and would like to have. These are known as consumer goods and services or producer goods and services. Essentially, the purpose of business activity is to provide us with the goods and services that meet our needs and wants. But, what are needs? How are they different to wants?

Today Year 9 students also learned the difference between the two after being put in a situation where they had just been shipwrecked off a cruise ship and had to salvage items from the wreck to take with them to a nearby deserted island. Each person on the lifeboat could only carry two items with them. Passionate debates ensued and students managed to establish their own understandings of essentials and non-essentials. In business terms, they now understand that needs constitute goods or services that people must have to survive such as food, water and shelter. Wants are different. They are any goods  or services which people would like to have. They are not essential for living. Mobile phones, cars and holidays are good examples.

Learning key terms such as these are important in answering IGCSE Business Studies examination questions. Business has a very precise language and knowing how to “talk business” is an essential skill. This largely links to Assessment Objective 1: Knowledge and Understanding which demands that students be able to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of techniques, theories, facts and key terms plus concepts included in the syllabus.

Based on the today’s sessions, the Year 9 students clearly demonstrated that they are quick studies and we look forward to seeing them in our classrooms next academic year!

Ms. Tamara Brunskill


 Y9 Taster Lessons: IGCSE Economics

The basic economic problem which forms the foundation of Economics is based on the premise that human beings have to make choices on how to allocate their scarce resources to satisfy their infinite needs and wants. These choices therefore involve an element of sacrifice as producing or consuming one good or service means that it's alternative has to be foregone. All economic decisions therefore involve opportunity cost which is the next best alternative that we forego when making choices. An understanding of the basic economic problem is a crucial tenet of any studies in Economics.

The focus of the taster lesson was to draw the students’ attention to the fact that we all encounter the need to make economic choices on a daily basis as economic agents. The starter activity prompted the students to compare two families whose economic status contrasted starkly. They recorded what they saw and thought and were challenged to “wonder” beyond the pictures. They were then challenged to compare the needs and wants of the two families as well as reflect on their own families’ needs and wants. Heated discussions ensued regarding why needs and wants differ and why even the most affluent of families will still experience scarcity and the need to make choices. It was evident that these budding economists already understood quite a bit of the concepts.

The idea of choice would not be complete without a discussion of a real-life dilemma involving economic agents making choices. The scenario was set in a small town whose only hospital has one kidney dialysis machine that operates for 30 hours a week. In groups, the students had to decide how the 3 hours (scarce resource) would be allocated among 11 patients, each with differing but urgent need to use the machine. Once again, drama erupted as each group of “managers” sought to justify their choice of which patient to save and which one would sadly, die.

By the end of the lesson, it was clear that this brilliant group of learners are keen to develop their understanding of human behaviour in their quest to provide solutions to the world’s economic problems.

Mr. Joseph Gichana