Across Australia, the ongoing cost-of-living crisis is causing financial pain not seen since the height of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008. If recent data is any indicator, this time could be even worse.
At the start of the GFC in 2007-2008, Australia’s economic “misery index” jumped to 62%. However, in the last 12 months, the index skyrocketed by an alarming 220% as a double whammy of rising inflation and interest rates threatens a painful recession in 2024.
Given the current state of the economy, it is important for young people to understand how to manage their finances – especially as they prepare to enter a workforce at the mercy of larger economic mechanisms.
Unfortunately, recent reports have shown an alarming rising disinterest and reduction in students studying Economics as an HSC subject.
According to data from the NSW Education Standards Authority, student enrolment in Economics has declined from 30% in 1992 to just 8% last year, with students choosing courses like Business Studies, which they perceive as being easier.
Studies also show that Economics is a subject that is increasingly male-dominated, with boys making up two-thirds of enrolments compared to an equal distribution in the past.
However, Sydney girls’ school, Loreto Normanhurst is defying this trend.
The school has long advocated a proactive approach to economics education, encouraging early exploration and challenging the gender stereotypes associated with the subject.
“Building interest in economics early is crucial to encouraging participation and interest for further study and future careers in this field,” Gauri Gupta, Head of Social Sciences at Loreto Normanhurst, told The Educator.
“At Loreto Normanhurst, we have experienced the benefits of this approach and begin exploring economic principles as early as our Year 8 Geography curriculum. In emphasising the relevance of economics in everyday life, we can spark unique interest for girls in the subject of economics, with this early exposure the catalyst for future engagement and exploration in economics.”
Encouraging early exploration of economics has proved successful with the growth of students enrolling in Loreto Normanhurst’s Economics HSC course, bucking the state-wide trend with two Year 11 classes offered for the first time at Loreto Normanhurst in 2023,
This growth in student interest in economics follows a track record of students’ success in the subject, with ex-student Olivia Carozzi’s ranking 3rd in the state for Economics in 2020, achieving an ATAR of 99.8.
To sustain interest, Gupta says it’s critical to adopt teaching practices that can make the intimidating content of the subject more relatable and engaging.
Loreto Normanhurst employs dynamic and interesting learning strategies such as real-world scenarios, interactive games, and examples of current economic events to make economics interesting, tangible, and applicable to students’ lives, says Gupta.
“This approach will allow educators to see the practical applications of economics and fosters a deeper connection with the subject matter. Encouraging critical thinking and analysis is also a fundamental aspect of employing an effective approach to economics education,” Gupta said.
“By exposing students to economic principles and applicability to everyday life early within a supportive and engaging learning environment, we empower young women to not only excel in economics but shape their own future in a world driven by economic forces.”