Overview of Keystone Economic Principles

The nine basic Keystone Economic Principles™ form a teachers’ guide to help students develop the logical, intentional thought processes that will enable them to be better decision-makers. The booklet serves as a bridge linking the theory found in college-level introductory economics courses to the routine experiences of k-12 students.


Every teacher wants students to internalize what they learn; to think rather than to memorize facts. A large factual retrieval system is of limited value if students are not able to use those facts to make sound decisions. By incorporating these nine Principles throughout students’ academic careers, they will learn to move from unthinking, reactive, or incomplete decision-making to a level of intentionality that evaluates the range of choice, the costs and benefits of the choice, and the long- and short-term consequences of the choice, all set within the framework of their own value system. Students will internalize their own accountability and learn from their decisions in a positive way that will provide a model for continually improving their decision-making skills. When they begin to use these skills to anticipate the predictability of consequences, they will begin to perceive a unifying logic to events of the past, present and future.

It is the coming together of these related skills that will enable each student to achieve his or her potential. Economics becomes the natural ally of teachers in any subject area as they work with students to grow as good students and good citizens. All of us will benefit from the positive outcomes of productive, thoughtful members of society.


As you review each of the principles, you will realize that they point to a process for decision-making and problem-solving. This process is applicable to almost any area of intellectual endeavor and can be readily incorporated throughout any curriculum.

Once teachers understand the basic economic principles, they will see economics all around them. Encourage teachers to:

  • Remember that economic literacy is a broad term and that financial literacy is a subset of that.
  • Broadly define resources (economics studies the allocation of scarce resources) to include not just material goods, but to also consider time, space, energy, and other non-tangible goods.
  • Hang economics posters on the wall and refer students to them frequently. The Indiana Council on Economic Education offers an excellent selection of posters.
  • Incorporate the list of economic concepts into daily lessons.
  • Be positive as you help students learn from their mistakes. Experience is a great teacher and students will make some mistakes along the way if they are really allowed to practice making their own choices.
  • Be alert to reinforcing issues about the predictability of consequences in all subject areas.