________________ CM . . . . Volume VII Number 15 . . . . March 30, 2001

Economix Series.

Daniel Frenette & Andre Lauzon (Directors). Jim Delaurier and others. (Producers).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 1996.
4 videos (Vol. 1 - 32 min., 56 sec.; Vol 2 - 31 min., 23 sec.; Vol. 3 - 36 min., 29sec.; Vol. 4 - 35 min., 05 sec.), VHS, $39.95 each.

Subject Heading:
Economics-Study and teaching (Secondary)-Canada.

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.
Review by Joanne Peters.

*** /4



Volume 1.

Order Number: 117C 9196 034.


Volume 2.

Order Number: 117C 9196 035.


Volume 3.

Order Number: 117C 9196 036.


Volume 4.

Order Number: 117C 9196 037.

In the musical Cabaret, one of the characters states that "Money makes the world go around." Economix, a four-videocassette series produced by the National Film Board, certainly provides students of senior high school economics classes with a clear sense of economic life, both in Canada, and the rest of the world. Each video volume contains two programs, and the accompanying "Teacher's Guide" suggests that the eight programs comprising the series can be shown in any sequence, although they were designed to be shown in the order that they are packaged. The first seven programs use an identical format. Each video contains two themed programs, introduced and hosted by comedian Elvira Kurt; each program contains three, 3- or 4-minute clips, separated by an animated question which focuses on basic economic concepts.

      Volume 1 explores "Needs and Wants": human needs and wants, along with a finite amount of resources, have resulted in the development of "The Market," in which supply and demand influence pricing, revenue, and profit. Markets depend upon goods or services being available: Volume 2 focuses on the different types of enterprises involved in "Production" of goods and services, while "Consumption" examines the ways in which consumers access the results of production. The next volume explores the operation of financial institutions in "The Banking System," along with "The Role of Government." Finally, Volume 4 looks beyond the specifically Canadian examples presented in the previous six programs; "International Trade" offers a perspective on the global economy, free trade, and international competition. The final program is "Tomorrow's Challenges," and it offers two very different future scenarios for Canada's economy. The first scenario is pessimistic, indeed, almost apocalyptic: crushed by national debt, and international economic crisis, Canada is in chaos. The social safety net has fallen apart, as drastic cuts in government services are the only solution to pulling the country back from the brink of bankruptcy. The second scenario is positive: Canada has overcome its debt problems, has embraced a knowledge-based global economy, and is poised on the brink of membership in a new G7.

      Economix does an excellent job of presenting some fairly sophisticated concepts in a manner readily understandable by high school students. Even students with virtually no economics background can grasp the concepts presented in the first two video volumes, and teachers of courses focusing on personal finance (Home Economics, Consumer Mathematics) might find the program on "Consumption" a useful way of introducing the consumer issues all of us face. Volumes 3 and 4 are definitely for students with a firm understanding of basic economic concepts. The "Teacher's Guide" provides useful classroom activities to accompany each program, and "Comment" sidebars for the last three programs provide teachers with some useful introductory leads. The video series does have a few flaws, though: produced in 1996, it predates the phenomenal growth of e-commerce and the changes that the Internet has brought to banking. The computer-generated graphics which introduce the program segments are current now, but in a few more years, they may be passe. Finally, at times, I found Elvira Kurt's antics just too over-the-top for my taste (and it's not just me - students who have viewed the programs responded the same way).

      Nevertheless, good Canadian material on economics is not easy to find, and, if your school offers a course in the subject, Economix is definitely worth having. If your school cannot afford to purchase it, suggest that your division or board's resource centre acquire it for use by several schools.

      It's the economical thing to do.


Joanne Peters is a teacher-librarian at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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