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Nature and the Economy

Secondary

Description

The goal of the lesson is to have students understand the basic workings of the economy and the contribution of nature to the economy, with particular attention to the concepts of 'Natural Capital' and the 'Tragedy of the Commons'. Students will also examine measures other than GDP as an indicator of the health of an economy.

The teaching sequence is as follows:

  • 15 minutes - Watching and discussing video, Cave - nomics
  • 20 minutes - Watching and discussing video, A Bees Voice
  • 15 minutes - Other ways of measuring economic well being
  • 10 minutes - Reflection questions

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

The lesson will help students develop those skills associated with effective viewing of videos - identifying central ideas and supporting evidence. It should also strengthen student's skills as they relate to taking and defending a position on an issue.

Strengths

Students will find the two videos both entertaining and informative. They are both excellent resources for introducing the concepts addressed. The resource is also valuable in ensuring that students have certain basic understandings that are a piece of the scaffolding that must be in place before proceeding to consideration of related issues and will better ensure a more informative position on those issues.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

At one level, the resource is helpful for those units of study that examine the nature and workings of the market economy and the importance of natural capital to that economy. On another level the resource will be useful for other units that deal with the concept of sustainable development and related issues.

Teachers may wish to use the resource in combination with R4R resources dealing with the concept of a circular economy.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

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  • Alberta
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    • Grade 9
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      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Issues for Canadians: Economic Systems in Canada and the United
    • Grade 12
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      • Economics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Macroeconomics 30: Course Content
        • Microeconomics 30: Course Content
  • Manitoba
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    • Grade 10
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      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geographic Issues of the 21st Century: Natural Resources
    • Grade 12
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      • Social Studies
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        • Citizenship and Sustainability: Area of Inquiry: Consumerism
        • Global Issues
  • New Brunswick
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    • Grade 12
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      • Economics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Economics 120: Demand, Supply and the Market
      • Environmental Science
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        • Advanced Environmental Science 120:Introduction to the human sphere
        • Introduction to Environmental Science 120: Sustainable Development
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
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    • Grade 10
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      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Canadian Geography 1202: Natural and Human Systems
    • Grade 11
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      • Economics
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        • Canadian Economics 2203:Economic Issues
        • Canadian Economy 2203:Fundamental Economic Concepts: Fundamental Principles of Economics
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      • Environmental Science
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        • Environmental Science 3205: Introduction to Environmental Science
  • Nova Scotia
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      • Geography
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        • Geography 10: Spaceship Earth
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      • Economics
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        • Canadian Economics:Fundamental Economic Concepts
  • Ontario
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    • Grade 9
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      • Geography
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        • Issues in Canadian Geography (Academic): Interactions in the Physical Environment
        • Issues in Canadian Geography (Applied): Managing Canada's Resources and Industries
    • Grade 11
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      • Economics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • The Individual and the Economy (Univ./College Prep.): Fundamentals of Economics
      • Geography
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        • Forces of Nature: Physical Processes and Disasters (Univ./College Prep.): The Physical Environment: Sustainability and Stewardship
        • Regional Geography (Univ./College Prep.): Sustainability and Stewardship
    • Grade 12
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      • Economics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Analysing Current Economic Issues Univ. Prep.) Fundamentals of Economics
        • Making Personal Economic Choices (Workplace Prep.) Economic Fundamentals
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Living in a Sustainable World (Workplace Prep.) Sustainability of Natural Resources
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Univ./College Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship of Natural Resources
  • Prince Edward Island
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    • Grade 10
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      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geography of Canada 421A: Economic Connections
    • Grade 12
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      • Economics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Introductory Economics 621A: Introduction and Basic Concepts
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 621A: Introduction to Environmental Science
  • Quebec
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    • Grade 9
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      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • The Contemporary World: Environment
  • Saskatchewan
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    • Grade 10
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      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Social Studies 10: Economic Decision Making

Themes Addressed

  • Citizenship (2)

    • Ecological Footprint
    • Sustainable Consumption
  • Economics (2)

    • Corporate Social Responsibility
    • Trade
  • Ecosystems (2)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
    • Carrying Capacity
  • Governance (1)

    • Government Regulations
  • Human Health & Environment (1)

    • Quality of Life

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

The lesson plan is organized around two videos - Cave-O-Nomics and A Bee's Invoice: The Hidden Value. The first is an introduction to Economics 101 and in intended to introduce students to the concepts and language of the market economy. The second video aims to enlarge the students understanding of the market economy by considering the monetary and non-monetary value of nature or what the videos calls natural capital. 

The combination of the two videos provides a balanced view of the workings of the economy and a framework in which students may analyze current economic issues.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Very Good

Students will first gain an understanding of the factors that drive the market economy and the importance of "natural capital' to that economy. They are then asked to consider the non-monetary value that we might attach to nature, the critical role it plays in the well being of society and the importance of adopting a spirit of stewardship to safeguard that value.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Very Good

The lesson plan adopts a scaffolding approach to helping students understand the economy. The basic concepts and language of the market economy are put in place and then challenged or enlarged upon by having students investigate factors not normally included in traditional considerations of profit and loss, supply and demand, innovation and change. Finally, it asks students to consider what measures other than economic performance may be used to determine a society's well being.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Poor/Not considered

There is no action component included in the lesson plan but it may be expected that student action in the future will be informed by their heightened understanding of the role of natural capital and the various threats to the "Commons".

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Very Good

Students are asked to consider the value of nature in monetary terms and to recognize that this does not provide the full story of the value that we attach to nature. Students are also asked to consider the inadequacies of using GDP as a measure of societies health and to identify non - economic values that might be used as criteria in determining how well a society or country is performing.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered
Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Good

The aim of the lesson is to raise student awareness of both the monetary and non- monetary value of nature. Students will see nature in terms of its economic value and how we rely on nature to provide us with the goods we consume. They are asked also to consider other ways in which we value nature (exercise, fresh air, beauty)

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Good

The lesson offers opportunities for the students to identify and discuss local examples of 'natural capital' and the 'tragedy of the commons'. Students may also consider the personal enjoyment they derive from the local natural environment.

Local examples may also be used to illustrate the workings of the market economy. 

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Good

The video, Cave-o-nomics uses a paleolithic setting to suggest how the market economy might have emerged and developed into it's present format while the video, A Bee's Invoice, serves to argue for the need to enlarge our understanding of the role of nature in the economy and the need to factor in that understanding in current and future economic analysis. 

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

The lesson plan requires that students view and discuss two videos - Cave-o Nomics and A Bee's Invoice. The discussion is organized around a number of open-ended questions that allow students to arrive at and share their own perspective on the the workings of the economy and the importance of nature to the economy. The lesson concludes with a class discussion of a more 'holistic' approach to measuring social well being.  

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Good

The lesson plan has particular relevance for Economic courses but broaden the study of economics beyond considerations of profit and loss to suggest that the real bottom line is the environment. This attention to the natural environment will make the lesson plan of interest to Social Studies teachers (Geography, World Issues) and teachers of Environmental Science. The common denominator among these subjects is the issue of sustainable development.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Satisfactory

The lesson plan adopts the pedagogy associated with guided inquiry. Two videos are used to raise the student awareness and understanding of the market economy and the role of nature in the economy. Students then participate in large group discussions intended to help them articulate and share their perspective on the issues addressed.

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Good

Visual learners will benefit from the use of videos to explore the issues under consideration while those who learn best from listening and talking will enjoy the debriefing discussion. Worksheets will also help students focus, organize and articulate their thoughts on the matters discussed.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Poor/Not considered
Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory

Students may work in pairs to discuss and answer the worksheet questions that support each of the videos. Large group discussion is designed to have students arrive at a definition of the word economy', to share their responses to the questions related to the "nature" of the economy and the use of GDP to measure societal health.

Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Good

Teachers may assess student understanding of the issues addressed by a "reading" of their completed worksheets and by their participation in the class discussions.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory

The debriefing that follows the viewing of the videos allows students to hear and react to the understanding and perspectives of their fellow students.

Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Good

The video, The Bee's Invoice: The Hidden Value in Nature is an excellent case study in the importance of nature to the economy.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Satisfactory

The guided inquiry approach adopted by the lesson plan means that the direction of the learning is set by the teacher. In this instance it ensures that certain concepts are addressed and that students have the understandings that are a prerequisite to further study of related issues. It does not prevent the class from raising those other issues or having the teacher include follow- up lessons that may further enlarge student understanding.

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.