Activity Introduction

bbrw-running-photoframe-newQuick summary: This lesson is designed to get students to use the Happy Planet Index to explore ways of measuring a nation’s progress (other than GDP) where human well being and ecological sustainability are taken into account.

This lesson supports students to inquire into the big idea of ‘real wealth’. Students develop an understanding of shared values, and build their sustainable and ethical financial knowledge, equipping them with the skills to make sound financial decisions based on social, environmental and economical merit.

Learning goals:

  • Students build their critical thinking and questioning skills.
  • Students interpret data and information displayed in different formats to identify relationships and trends.
  • Students develop an understanding of the ways national progress can be measured, going beyond the traditional use of gross domestic product (GDP).
  • Students investigate economic performance and living standards and discuss how they can mean different things to different people and countries.

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking, Personal and Social Capability, Ethical Understanding, Literacy, Numeracy.

Cross-curriculum Priority: Sustainability OI.5, OI.6, OI.8.

Australian Curriculum content description:

Year 10 Economics and Business

  • Indicators of economic performance and how Australia’s economy is performing (ACHEK050)
  • The links between economic performance and living standards, the variations that exist within and between economies, and the possible causes (ACHEK051)
  • The ways that governments manage the economy to improve economic performance and living standards (ACHEK052)

Syllabus OutcomesC5.2, C5.3, C5.4.

Topic: Consumption

Unit of lessons: Real Wealth Year 9 & 10

Time required: 60 mins, plus 25 mins homework prior to the lesson.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – teacher should do background reading and view video prior to lesson.

Resources required: Student worksheet – one paper copy per student OR access to computer/tablet with internet access, internet access for each student for video viewing, headphones for each student if viewing video in class. Real Wealth Cheat Sheet, Glossary Secondary.

Digital technology opportunities: Digital sharing capabilities.

Homework and extension opportunities: Includes opportunities for homework and extension.

Keywords: Gross Domestic Product (GDP), welfare, well being, ecological footprint.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

bbrw-happy-photoframe-newTeacher Preparation

Overarching learning goal: By participating in this activity, students will:

  1. Take responsibility for their own learning by watching a video and completing a thinking routine (the Flipped learning approach).
  2. Develop an understanding of alternative ways of measuring economic performance and living standards, and discuss how they can mean different things to different people and countries.

Teacher content information: Most measures of national progress are actually just measures of economic activity; how much we are producing or consuming. By only using indicators like GDP to measure success we are not accounting for what really matters - producing happy lives for people now and in the future.

The Happy Planet Index (HPI) puts current and future well being at the heart of measurement. It frames the development of each country in the context of real environmental limits. In doing so it tells us what we instinctively know to be true - that progress is not just

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Student Worksheet

Thought Starter: Can we have a strong economy, happy people AND a healthy planet?

Preparation: Before coming to this lesson, spend some time looking at the Happy Planet Index website and watch the clip below. Once complete, answer the related questions.

The most common measure of a nation’s progress or its position in the world is by looking at its gross domestic product (GDP). This economic indicator measures the total value of all goods and services produced in a country in one given year. Whilst this measure determines the total amount of income generated by a country, it gives no indication of the general well being of the people living on that country or the impact this country is having on the natural environment. That is, it does not measure the environmental or social cost of its production or give any indication of how long this level of production can be sustained.

The Happy Planet Index provides an alternative to the traditional measure by attempting to measure “what real

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