Economics is Halcyon’s newest Diploma subject, although that’s not instantly obvious upon walking into LG1. While the shiny covers and sharp corners of the recently-acquired textbooks betray the newness of the subject, students are focused and fully absorbed in the world of Economics - to the extent that many Grade 11 students have taken to spending their out-of-school hours engaging with the London Institute of Banking and Finance ‘Student Investor’ competition. Instead of testing the waters, teacher Russ Moon and his students have dived straight in.
Today, the class is perhaps slightly quieter than usual. Students grip ink pens rather than styluses, carefully placing paragraphs down on paper as they pause after reading printed questions. This unit covers Demand and Supply, a microeconomics staple which nonetheless provides students with some challenging material. Question 2 of the test, for example, pushes students to utilise their understanding, memory and imagination to the full; asking them to draw and label a hypothetical demand curve for a chosen product in a chosen market.
Boet explains to us that instead of rigidly applying the rule of ‘using new technology’ to everything, Halcyon teachers deliberately make room for pen-and-paper practice. On a functional level, these practices make sense because Diploma exams are, by and large, completed by paper (“and probably will be for another 20 years,” Boet adds). Beyond that, however, the test relates to a flexibility in learning methods that extends further than this lesson. Boet tells us how he personally chooses to use pen and paper for economics lessons while opting to go entirely paperless for maths and English. But being innovative is not about making every student use technology: it’s about allowing students to find their own method of learning, and the freedom that Russ Moon’s class provides reflects that.
Students have access to a custom-built Halcyon Economics website, packed with unit-based resources, to inform their learning. Yet they are also encouraged to enrich their experience outside of the (digital) classroom: the above-mentioned LIBAF Student Investor competition is becoming a growing focus for Grade 10 students as well as Grade 11, which allows them to compete with those attending other schools as well as each other.
It looks like Halcyon and Economics make a good match, if the great start of this class is anything to go by.