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Simply Put: A Study in Economics Review by Kirsten West

Student Book and Teacher Key
Catherine McGrew Jaime
Creative Learning Connection

Simply Put is a thorough-yet-concise course in economics perfect for the homeschooled high school student. This curriculum does not require that either your child or you have any previous knowledge of economics. The author begins with the basic ideas of needs, wants, demand, and pricing and explains everything in a clear and simple way.

Describing economics in a simple manner is perhaps the hardest task any of us, as homeschooling parents, must face. There are so many layers of complexity, so many interrelated concepts which depend on each other in ways that can easily be confusing. I barely understood economics in high school. I could not see any logic behind most of the concepts, and the rest were so simple that they seemed obvious. As a result, I struggled to find an economics text to use with my children in our homeschool. Simply Put is the perfect choice.

The author, Catherine Jaime, is a homeschooling parent and a “classical liberal” (conservative) with economics training from MIT’s Sloan School of Management, the Foundation for Teaching Economics, and the Foundation for Economics Education. The combination of her subject expertise, worldview, and homeschooling background comes together into a curriculum perfectly suited for many homeschooled high school students. The lessons are designed to be used flexibly and can suit nearly any method of homeschooling, and the material is paced perfectly for children at the high school level.

Priced at $19.50 for the Student Book with an accompanying Teacher Key ($9.99), Simply Put is flexible enough that you can use it in a variety of ways in your homeschool. The curriculum, which includes a student reader as well as a teacher’s guide, is excellent for children in high school (grades 9-12). The writing style is straightforward and conversational, making it perfect for the independent child to use on his own, coming to you for lesson follow-up. But if you read it aloud in your homeschool, the text can be a way to expand each lesson into a full discussion of the concepts and apply them to your child’s world. We used the curriculum just this way, reading each lesson together, working through the questions included in the Teacher’s Key for that lesson, and then expanding the discussion to apply the new concepts to my children’s own experiences.

Each lesson is fairly concise and includes only a few pages of text to read, which allows your child to fully grasp each concept before moving on to the next. There are thirty-six lessons, two classroom activities, one mid-term, and one final exam included in the curriculum, making this a full high school economics course. The appendices include key economic essays, relevant historical documents, and select economic data that are all used as your child works through the course. In this way, the curriculum is very much stand-alone.

The author has written Simply Put as either a semester high school course (if you complete two lessons each week) or a full-year course (if you pace the material at one lesson each week). If you use the material included in the curriculum alone, the course is worth the half credit required for high school in many states. The author includes suggestions, however, of ways you can easily add resources to make the course a one-credit, full-year course. In our homeschool, we meet once a week for economics, so we used this curriculum at a pace that will make it a year-long course. I chose this option as it allows me to thread multiple related subjects simultaneously that all reinforce each other, sort of like a year-long high school level unit study that includes economics, history, and civics.

This curriculum is written with free market principles in mind and grounded in patriotism, but the author does not leave out the Keynesian economics typically taught in high schools and college. This way, your child will understand the difference between Keynesian and Austrian economics and the consequences of the various schools of thought upon our country’s economy (past, present, and future).

Many of us never fully grasped economics in school. Later in life, we may have picked up an understanding of the basics, but we probably only have been exposed to one side of the economics story. Simply Put is a curriculum that will enlighten you and your child as the author ties the development of economic principles to the underpinnings of American history and politics. Your child will learn about the various schools of economic thought and their consequences in a clear and easy-to-understand way: Simply Put.

-Product review by Kirsten West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2017