Search This Blog

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"Teaching Amidst a Crisis" - A Personal Experience

We at anti-mankiw have recently blogged about how one might incorporate pluralist teaching tools in economics. The introductory paragraph links to a blog post by Prof. Mankiw posted in 2009 basically outlining how he believes introductory econ texts should remain status quo - which by definition, means that he believes nothing new has been learned from the crisis that students should know about.

I thought I'd relate my personal teaching experience to expand upon the anti-mankiw post at a more personal level.

First, I don't use Mankiw's textbooks to teach my intro macroeconomics class. I did - once upon a time - just before the financial meltdown. Then that event happened, and I, having been already fairly heavily exposed and interested in heterodox concepts outside of the classroom decided that I would be doing my students a disservice by continuing to teach from a textbook written by an author who is so blindly and ideologically biased.

Deciding on a main textbook to use is actually a fairly daunting and complicated process though. There exists imop no textbook that incorporates pluralist/heterodox concepts in a student-friendly way where I could use just one textbook. There are good heterodox publications, but they are devoid of pictures, and/or obviously published on a severe budget-constraint: the sorts of books that only the most dedicated students could sink their teeth into. I teach a night class so most of my students have full-time jobs - so I need a text that is going to be formatted and written in an inviting way. So, years ago I decided the best way to teach my students was to find a mainstream textbook that did not have the same philosophy as Mankiw - published by someone who learned something from the finanaical crisis - who thinks current events are useful learning and teaching moments. And, I would use free-of-charge supplemental materials from various other sources, to create 'heterodox modules' to teach along-side the mainstream text.

The mainstream text I use today is Robert Hall and Marc Lieberman's Principles text. Why do I like it so much better than Mankiw's text (note: I have no loyalties to this text, so if anyone has any other options, I'm constantly re-evaluating)? Because every other chapter has been expanded with new topics since the crisis: interest rate spreads, ARRA stimulus, 'too big to fail', unorthodox monetary policy, housing market as it relates to macro, etc. These authors, while still thoroughly mainstream and therefore missing huge chunks of true economic thought, at least learned that their previous edition was missing something crucial, and in some cases included unfortunate assumptions that they incorrectly assumed to be simplifying ones.

Here's my favorite example. In their 4th edition, Hall and Lieberman say the following in the 'money' chapter:

Fortunately the details and complexities of measuring money are not important for a basic understanding of the monetary system and monetary policy.

I always hated that quote. Sounds very Mankiwian doesn't it. But then, in the fifth edition published in 2010, that quote vanishes. Makes me smile.

As mentioned, I use numerous supplemental materials in my class - which is helpful to engage different kinds of students. I also use supplemental portions of a heterodox text and the aforementioned main text. It of course has its drawbacks as, ideally, I'd like to use just one text. In some cases, students have to read duplicated concepts - parts where the mainstream text and the heterodox supplements overlap. But to me it's worth it. For one, I feel better about myself because I feel I'm being academically honest. And two, many students really get it. And when I say get it, I mean they graduate my class less like neo-classical robots and more like well-rounded, well-educated individuals.

8 comments:

Nathan Tankus said...

http://www.amazon.com/Macroeconomics-Context-Neva-Goodwin/dp/0765622971

this is the heterodox intro text my economics 101 class uses. It's not perfect, but i think it is quite good. especially for an intro text

Garth said...

That my supplemental text ;). It's a great supplement....already decided against it as a main text. Thanks though!

Nathan Tankus said...

Understandable. It's the only textbook required for the course, but in a sense it's supplemental because he only grades on the exams and understanding his lectures is all you really need to do well.

Nathan Tankus said...

Understandable. It's the only textbook required for the course, but in a sense it's supplemental because he only grades on the exams and understanding his lectures is all you really need to do well.

oakleyses said...

tiffany and co, christian louboutin shoes, polo ralph lauren outlet, coach purses, nike free, longchamp handbags, coach factory outlet, louis vuitton outlet, tiffany and co, louis vuitton, gucci outlet, kate spade handbags, louis vuitton outlet, true religion jeans, tory burch outlet, kate spade outlet, prada handbags, air max, michael kors outlet, chanel handbags, burberry outlet, ray ban sunglasses, oakley sunglasses, burberry outlet, prada outlet, nike shoes, michael kors outlet, longchamp outlet, louis vuitton handbags, ray ban sunglasses, coach outlet, jordan shoes, michael kors outlet, louboutin outlet, michael kors outlet, polo ralph lauren outlet, air max, michael kors outlet, michael kors outlet, coach outlet store online, louis vuitton outlet stores, oakley sunglasses cheap, oakley sunglasses, true religion jeans, louboutin, longchamp handbags, louboutin

oakleyses said...

hollister, louis vuitton uk, michael kors, sac burberry, true religion outlet, nike tn, vans pas cher, abercrombie and fitch, nike roshe run, nike air max, michael kors, louboutin, oakley pas cher, timberland, nike free pas cher, north face, nike trainers, polo ralph lauren, mulberry, ray ban pas cher, michael kors pas cher, new balance pas cher, ray ban sunglasses, air max, air force, barbour, sac longchamp, sac louis vuitton, vanessa bruno, lululemon, sac guess, sac louis vuitton, air jordan, sac hermes, louis vuitton, true religion outlet, nike free, air max, longchamp, hogan outlet, nike roshe, hollister, ralph lauren, north face, polo lacoste, air max pas cher, converse pas cher, nike blazer

oakleyses said...

hollister, herve leger, canada goose, insanity workout, nfl jerseys, canada goose, soccer jerseys, north face outlet, p90x, ugg, uggs outlet, canada goose, marc jacobs, new balance shoes, ugg pas cher, canada goose outlet, ferragamo shoes, canada goose uk, celine handbags, jimmy choo outlet, abercrombie and fitch, reebok outlet, mac cosmetics, longchamp, wedding dresses, ugg boots, beats by dre, mcm handbags, asics running shoes, ghd, giuseppe zanotti, babyliss pro, soccer shoes, canada goose jackets, ugg boots, ugg australia, lululemon outlet, birkin bag, mont blanc, north face jackets, nike huarache, nike roshe run, bottega veneta, chi flat iron, rolex watches, instyler, vans shoes, valentino shoes

oakleyses said...

montre homme, iphone 6 cases, thomas sabo, swarovski crystal, hollister clothing store, swarovski, lancel, rolex watches, moncler, ray ban, wedding dresses, air max, hollister, ugg, ralph lauren, coach outlet store online, pandora jewelry, converse, baseball bats, oakley, louboutin, juicy couture outlet, moncler, gucci, air max, pandora charms, hollister, moncler outlet, timberland boots, louis vuitton, toms shoes, juicy couture outlet, canada goose, vans, parajumpers, moncler, ugg, pandora charms, canada goose, moncler, moncler, links of london, converse shoes, moncler, supra shoes, karen millen