Points to I would discuss with the mother and son:
The Commerce subject falls under the Studies of Society and the Environment (SOSE) learning area of the Curriculum and Standards Framework (CSF). “SOSE is a study of human progress and how people have organized themselves into societies over time, and how they have interacted with their physical environments” (CSF). I believe the knowledge students gain from exploring these issues is invaluable because helps them to better understand the world they live in. It also encourages students to understand the values that strengthen Australian society; which is one of the goals of Civics and Citizenship education.
In Victoria, Civics and Citizenship crosses the curriculum from prep to year 10 and is linked to the eight key learning areas. It has a particular focus in SOSE disciplines such as history, geography, economy and society, commerce, legal studies and political studies. It covers important values “including tolerance and mutual respect, and a knowledge of the development and functioning of Australia’s political, legal, electoral and judicial systems” (CSF).
“The SOSE component of the CSF makes a firm commitment to the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to develop informed Australian citizens” (Discovering Democracy). In years 7 to 10 the CSF outline for SOSE comprises the strands of History, Geography and also Economy and society, which is what the schools Commerce subject is based on.
“The Economy and society strand introduces students to the structure and management of the economy and its resources, the world of work and business, and Australia’s political and legal systems. It promotes the development of enterprise skills and attributes, and draws on past and contemporary issues and a range of perspectives, particularly those related to the future and technology” (CSF).
The major concepts developed in the Economy and society strand include: Civics and social organization, Citizenship, Economic management and decision-making, Employment, Enterprise, Business and financial organization and Globalisation.
I believe that Commerce helps form the foundations young people need to make sound decisions on financial, business, legal and employment issues because it provides practical knowledge, skills, understanding and values. Having knowledge about these concepts and how to apply them is beneficial for young adults to learn early. “With changing times, the need to give young people a grip on money management has increased… More than a third of school students work, and two-thirds of 15 to 19-year-olds earn up to $200 a week. Not all know how to handle that income” (Russell, 2004; Age). Commerce provides students with “an understanding of the relationships between consumers, businesses and governments in the overall economy” (Board of Studies, NSW, 2003). These are issues that they may not necessarily think about, even though they already earning and spending money.
The schools Commerce subject also aims to create awareness of the values and attitudes associated with being a responsible citizen. It encourages them to “value and appreciate ethical and socially responsible behaviour in relation to personal decision-making, business practices, employment and legal issues” (Board of Studies, NSW, 2003). It also informs students of the “fundamental rights, rules and laws that promote fairness, justice and equity in our society through responsible and active citizenship” (Board of Students, NSW, 2003).
The nature of the subject also teaches students essential life skills such as problem solving, decision-making, critical thinking, reflective learning and the opportunity to participate in the community.
These skills are not only valuable in the outside world but can be beneficial in improving students’ comprehension of other key learning areas, for example mathematics. The concepts taught and the perceptive nature of Commerce allows students to apply their knowledge gained from mathematics in a practical sense. It can help students in understanding the need for mathematics by engaging them with ‘real-life’- scenarios, such as accounting and financial literacy.
I believe Commerce teaching in education is highly beneficial to students, especially as they are getting closer to entering the ‘real world’. Studying Commerce provides students with the opportunity to engage in the learning process and encourages them to analyse current events and issues. Through their investigation, students are challenged to form their own opinions and develop the capacity to think critically about the world they live in.
Points I would emphasise to the son:
“It’s important that young people know how the legal and political structures work because it’s a form of empowerment” (Cook, 2002; Age).
Commerce studies allows young adults to learn about the world they live in and how to make sense of it. It helps students to make informed decisions about issues that affect them currently, and in the future. More then a third of school students work, which means teenagers are already having to make decisions regarding money and employment issues. The topics taught and discussed in Commerce subjects, allow students to evaluate and make well-informed decisions which affect their future.
Commerce subjects are fun; students can engage in the curriculum because the topics are about ‘real-life’, things that are happening currently in their world. It also gives them an opportunity to contribute in discussions, voice their own opinions and listen to others.
The practical nature of Commerce subjects helps students to realise that they are the future. “… Continuing development of democracy, justice and sustainability needs new ways of thinking about and participating in work and the economy, and education must play a role in developing this” (Gilbert, 2001).
Board of Studies NSW (2003), ‘Commerce Years 7-10 Syllabus’, Board of Studies, Sydney, NSW – http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au
Cook, M. ‘Breaathing New Life Into Civics’, Age (Australia), Late ed. p4, Wednesday, March 27, 2002.
CSF – [email protected] CD-ROM www.eduweb.vic.gov.au/curriculumatwork/Index.htm
Discovering Democracy, Civics and Citizenship Education (DD) – http://www.curriculum.edu.au/democracy/
Gilbert, R. (Ed), (2001), Studying Society and Environment, 2nd edn, Social Science Press, Katoomba, NSW.
Russell, A. ‘Creating Money Managers’, Age (Australia), Late ed. p3, Monday, March 15, 2004.