Zeitschrift für ökonomische Bildung Heft Nr. 3/2015/ DOI: 10.7808/8087.5
Menno Rol
Länderbericht: Renewing the Dutch economics syllabus for higher secondary education
Educational reforms from past to current debates

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Dutch secondary school economics education was never at rest. It currently finds itself once more in an interesting phase of transition. New developments of behavioural economics have been incorpo-rated into the exam subject matter while the deletion of Keynesian model making from the corpus triggers public debate. In this paper its one and a half century old history is described with a focus on the development of views on educational aims and the tools used to achieve these aims.The nineteenth and twentieth century history of economics teaching in the Netherlands runs from the aim to prepare the pupils for offices in trade and industry (the social efficiency argument), entering into a phase in which the aim was to arm pupils with the necessary analytical skills as part of a Bildung orientation, to the eighties when the ‘pupil-centredness’ came to the fore. This latest development was a reaction to the very Dutch peculiarity that secondary school pupils had to swallow quite a big deal of mathematical analysis and economic modelling. In terms of educational aims this period can be char-acterised as a confusion of means and ends. A twenty-first century development places aims and tools back where they belong.The newest program chooses as its starting point the trouble that occurs whenever agents enter the market: how to coordinate the various individual intentions when markets often fail? This is a breach with the old fashioned approach, which started with perfect competition and continues with cases of imperfection. However, this strong focus on how markets really work has come at the cost of a coher-ing macroeconomic corpus. Yet another commission is working on the development of the syllabus towards a macroeconomic tool of theoretical analysis: the New Keynesian Phillips Curve. This content is to enable pupils to also understand the current troubles of the economy with low interest rates, risk asymmetry and deflation.This most recent change is a sizable program shift, both in economics content and in pedagogy. Two tools are in use: one that structures the subject matter around economic concepts and real life contexts, and one that promotes classroom experiments. Meanwhile, this so called Teulings program has a clear aim. It seeks to empower pupils in developing an ‘economic outlook on social phenomena’. Notwithstanding the discontinuity in the history, this approach is consistent with the original aims of Bildung as well as social efficiency.

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Rol, Menno (2015): Länderbericht: Renewing the Dutch economics syllabus for higher secondary education - Educational reforms from past to current debates. In: Zeitschrift für ökonomische Bildung, Ausgabe 3, 95-123.

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