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Bedales students debate capitalism
Bedales Sixth form students attended a ‘stretch and challenge’ economics symposium on 26 February to consider issues including international trade, psychology, capitalism and ethical marketing.
The day started with a ‘Blue Peter’ style international trade activity, in which inter-school teams of students worked as countries, trading shapes that they had made, using a variety of pre-allocated resources, with the aim of earning as much money as they could. Not only was this a great exercise in understanding the implications for trade and living standards of countries being endowed with different resources, but was fascinating as an exercise in psychology and neuro-economics in terms of looking at whether people are more likely to compete with other or work together to improve the lot of everyone.
The second activity gave students the chance to practice presentation skills. Over the weeks running up to the event, they had read sections of Ha-Joon Chang's 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism, preparing a synopsis and then, most challenging, preparing some arguments against Chang's thesis. These arguments were then shared with the group, with each student contributing a five minute presentation.
In the afternoon, the group donned their walking shoes and set off around Winchester examining competition in the coffee shop market. They discovered that there were over 20 places serving coffee in a very small area, and that small, independent coffee shops were the most likely to try and differentiate themselves from the competition, perhaps by serving Fair Trade or locally-made products.
Ruth Tarrant, Head of Economics at Bedales, commented:
“For me, the best part of the day was being told by the hosts at Winchester College that a group of Bedalian economists would be welcome to participate in next year's symposium, owing to the enthusiasm and effort displayed by this year's cohort.”
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Bedales School is one of the UK's top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students' views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.