The teaching of economics : an investigation into the aims, texts, and assessment of the senior secondary economics curriculum in Western Cape schools

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This study concerns the economics curriculum in schools in the Western Cape as defined by syllabus aims, textbooks, and the Senior Certificate examination. The research for it was conducted by means of a teacher survey in secondary schools of the Department of Education and Culture, House of Assembly, Cape Education Department (CED); and the Department of Education and Culture, House of Representatives (HOR) in the Western Cape. This includes an analysis of the textbooks currently prescribed for economics, and an analysis of past Senior Certificate examination papers. The dissertation commences with a description of the existing curriculum and its setting in the context of Christian National education (CNE). This is followed by discussion of the philosophy of economics education as practised in the west, in order to view the South African economics curriculum against this background. The main aims of the present syllabus are discussed in terms of textbooks, teacher opinion, and the Senior Certificate examination. These aims concern the Christian character of economics, economics and Afrikaner nationalism, economics and capitalist values, as well as the vocational and formative value of economics. They are considered central to an understanding of how classroom economics has been affected by CNE, apartheid doctrine, and Afrikaner master symbols. This is followed by an investigation into the operation of the specific objectives of the syllabus and classroom practice of economics. These are described in terms of three groups of questions which formed part of the teacher survey. The questions addressed issues of teaching aimed at engendering interest in current economic events and the application of theory in the analysis and interpretation thereof; the purpose of economics teaching; and the importance and influence of content, textbooks and examinations in classroom economics. The content of the 1983 core syllabus is further considered in the light of teachers' responses to it and the opinions gained from the teacher survey are used in the final chapter as part of the basis of recommendations for remaking the content of the economics curriculum. Proposals are made for the remaking of the economics curriculum in the future on the basis of: the aims in terms of "economic literacy"; classroom practice and teaching trends in terms of "process learning"; and the content of classroom economics on the basis of "citizenship".

Bibliography: pages 319-332.