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Econ 101

By Denebola
Published: September 2008

By Denebola Staff

Denebola asked business and economics teacher Brian Hammel about the rapidly changing economy and the way it is affecting Newton South students.

Denebola: What do you teach your students about the economy, and how do these lessons relate to everyday life?
Brian Hammel: We talk about the economy in every class, every day. Changes in the economy affect how businesses produce, market, and finance their products and services. It is important for me to help my students draw those connections between the principles learned in class and current events. It is important for students to realize that business managers cannot change the economy, but can learn how to react appropriately and make sound decisions with regard to any economic change.

DN: How are students affected by the economy?
BH: One way I think students have been affected by the economy is with high gas prices. I remember hearing students last year discussing who would drive to lunch, and the main reason for not wanting to drive was a low gas tank and no money to fill it up. Certainly I could imagine that many retail businesses do not have as many part-time employment openings for high school students.

DN: Is your class any different because of the decline in the economy?
BH: There is simply more to talk about. For example, last week’s government takeover of the mortgage companies (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) was historic. This is not something the government does on a regular basis. It is always interesting to look at challenges in business (and the economy as a whole) and hypothesize with students about how to overcome those challenges. It always leads to great debates in the classroom. With the current poor economy and the upcoming election, we have plenty to talk about!

DN: How do you feel about students who maintain a job during the school year in order to make some extra money?
BH: I think that having a job during the school year is admirable. During any economy, good or bad, it is important to have a job, even if it is only for a couple hours a week.

DN: Is the economy influencing the quality of education?
BH: Certainly. Education is a business too, and a poor economy affects all businesses. Every business has to find ways to stretch its budget, and school systems are no exception.

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