Why Do Economics and History Go Together?
When most people think of economics, they see a lot of graphs, letters, arrows, and numbers. When most people think of history, they see a lot of names, dates, and maps. For that reason, most people think these subjects are ‘difficult’ because they really see them as ‘boring.’
Changing that perspective might be challenging for teachers, educators, and parents. After all, kids have a hard time changing their mindsets. However, by simply combining these two subjects in an interactive way, both subjects can become engaging. After all, both history in economics and economics in history are living and dynamic.
Start With History
Economics deals with patterns and graphs. The best way to start would be with common history topics. Talking about the Boston Tea Party, for example, would be a good way to explain the role government and taxes plays in economics.
The Civil War also has infinite possibilities for explaining economics. The importance of the Southern States’ cotton-driven economy to the global trade, for example, is a perfect way to illustrate the Law of Supply and Demand. Talking about the inflow of immigrants to the Northern factories gives you an opportunity to talk about labor in economics.
Use the Economics Graphs
Instead of hoping that the children see economics through the stories of history, use economic graphs. You might be afraid their attentions will wander the moment you draw that right angle and put letters on the ends. However, that is exactly what we want to remove: their fear of graphs. Re-label the points of the graph while explaining a point in history.
For example, the 1920 liquor Prohibition, enforced by the 18th Amendment, can be used to illustrate supply and demand. You can use the rise in liquor prices during the Prohibition. Explain how the quantity (Q) of liquor supplied (S) decreased, while the demand (D) stayed the same. This is why the price (P) increased.
Another example in the same period is the difference in the vineyards planted during the Prohibition. Suppliers expected demand for wine to decrease during the Prohibition. They cut down on the vineyards planted. Because demand remained high but supply was low, prices shot through the roof. When the vineyards came back, the quantity was too high. Because of that, prices dropped.
Keep the economic lesson plan simple. Use only one graph at a time. Instead of first drawing the graph and pointing at it, draw it while you teach. Label the points with whole sentences: Price of Liquor, for example, or Quantity of Grapes. Draw the Demand and Supply lines as you refer to the involved parties. Make both history and economics as alive as possible.
Economics and History Go Together
The forever challenge of teachers and educators is how to make their respective subjects interesting to students. Blending subjects, showing how they relate to each other, is one way to do this. However, teachers and educators should also take the opportunity to add new perspectives to their own learnings. For example, economics teachers can take online masters in history. This would help them find more angles on the teaching of economics.