About Infusionomics

Infusionomics started with a vision to adapt an engaging economic literacy curriculum developed by the Powell Center for Economic Literacy, and used with success at the Collegiate School in Richmond, Virginia, so that the lessons would be suitable for use in inner-city schools working with low income youth. The plan was to field test the lessons at six schools that are part of the Street School Network, formerly the National Association of Street Schools; three elementary and three secondary schools, located in six different urban areas.

The results were surprising. Although the lessons needed some changes, the students in these inner-city schools became highly engaged in economic thinking and concepts even before the process of adaptation was completed. Teachers soon discovered that there was more to this than adapting lessons. What really made the difference was in the way that the lessons were delivered. Instead of teaching a typical “unit” of economics, the teachers took what became known as the Keystone Economic Principles, nine ways of thinking about the principles of economics, and basic economic concepts, and used curriculum analysis to align core subject matter with these concepts. They would then teach a “a 15 minute lesson” to introduce the concept and engage the students.  For instance, the concept of scarcity would be aligned with naturally occurring topics in math, English, science, and social studies, and referred to in each class concurrently with those topics.

As a result: 1) the students saw the concept in multiple subject areas and began higher level understanding and association links with the concept; 2) they understood the concepts as relevant to their everyday world; 3) in observed instances, due to higher engagement in the core subject and increased relevance, student performance became energized, and higher student achievement resulted in the core academic subjects; and, 4) student behavior and thinking changed, with observed changes in their decision making affected by awareness of opportunity cost and long term consequences.

Teachers were thrilled by the new energy in their classrooms, the increased engagement of their students in their core subjects without having to displace required subject matter with another “curriculum”, and the obvious depth of understanding their students had of economic thinking and concepts – even in students as young as young as kindergarten!

Thus, “Infusionomics” was born! The infusion of economic thinking and concepts into the core academic subjects of required and approved school curriculum in a manner that results in a multi-dimensional understanding of free market economic concepts and sound decision making, while at the same time energizing and engaging students in those core academic subjects due to the relevance of the economic concepts to their everyday lives.

And though we succeeded in using Infusionomics in inner-city schools with low-income students who will benefit greatly from the concepts and good decision making skills that develop with this approach, it is our common conviction that Infusionomics is applicable to any school environment, regardless of location and economic level. These are the lessons of life: 1) real understanding of the economic principles and thinking that saturate every decision we make; and 2) sound decision making, grounded in strong character and values, that helps prevent the economic and financial pitfalls that are prevalent today in every strata of our society.

Infusionomics is intended to be a whole school approach to teaching economic thinking and concepts, and is meant to create the context for also experientially teaching financial literacy and youth entrepreneurship through the Ele:Vate Certified School Program.

The Ele:Vate Initiative is a collaborative effort by the StreetSchool Network (formerly called the National Association of Street Schools), the Powell Center for Economic Literacy, the Sagamore Institute, Hands-On Learning, and Entrenuity. Its purpose is to educate and engage teachers and after-school leaders in teaching economic thinking, concepts, financial literacy skills, and entrepreneurship, initially to low-income youth, but also to a wider audience attending both public and independent schools, nationwide.

The Ele:Vate vision is for students to know and practice the essential life skill of making good choices – based on cost-benefit analysis, opportunity costs, risk assessment, and discernment of short and long term consequences. Our ultimate vision is to equip students to navigate successfully the critical choices they will make throughout their lives and to fully realize their potential as citizens and participants in the global economy.