Aug 27, 2009

From the AP Classroom

Imagine teaching a class of forty two 4th grade students a lesson on consumers and producers while speaking only in English. That may not seem strange to you at all. Now focus the frame on the faces of these young learners and you would encounter the deer in the headlights look. Why? The economic concepts are readily comprehensible. The answer lies in the fact that these learners live in South Africa where there are 11 official languages and all learners spend their first four years of school being taught in their native tongues. I witnessed just such a lesson on August 7 at the Siphambano Primary School in the Mtubatuba area of KwaZulu-Natal Province. (The heart of Zulu land.) The teacher, Mr. TE Buthelezi, had prepared an interactive lesson for his Zulu speaking learners (in South Africa students are called learners) as part of the economics based instruction that occurs in all schools grades R-9. (R is the equivalent of our Kindergarten).

My name is Amy Hennessy and I teach the state mandated course in economics as well as AP Micro and AP Macroeconomics at Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School in Augusta, Georgia. Thanks to the support and encouragement I received from Mike Raymer, Dr. Glenn Blankenship, and Dr. David Martin at the Georgia Council I applied for and was accepted to participate in this year's Council for Economic Education Study Tour to South Africa. There were 24 U.S. teachers with our four tour leaders as well as six South African educators who spent an amazing ten days together in South Africa observing the multiplier effect of the Cooperative Education Exchange's(CEEP) program called Training of Trainers. This exchange involves select South African teachers being trained to teach economic concepts with Council materials by U.S. professors of economics, like Dr. John Brock of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Once trained these "trainers" then conduct workshops and provide support for their South African counterparts who in turn use these outcomes based lessons with their learners.

I will be sharing my experiences, photos, and videos over the next few posts. Then I will be posting some of my thoughts and tips on teaching both AP Micro and Macroeconomics. I look forward to sharing what has been the highlight of my professional career with all of you. Please feel free to leave comments and any queries you may have.