Thursday, June 04, 2015

How to Make Economics Fun

I'm currently in Cincinnati, where I gave a talk this evening to an audience of the teachers, high school and college, who grade the AP Econ exam. It was about how to teach economics in ways that will get and hold the attention of students.

It occurred to me that some readers of this blog might be interested.

13 Comments:

At 1:28 AM, June 05, 2015, Blogger Grant said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 1:31 AM, June 05, 2015, Blogger Grant said...

I always found economics interesting for precisely the same reason others dismiss it: because it describes how purely rational actors work. It tells us how to act rationally in the face of scarcity. The benefit of understanding an entire economy is very small, while the benefit of understanding how to act more rationally in your personal life is very valuable.

 
At 7:17 AM, June 05, 2015, Anonymous Power Child said...

Are you still in SW Ohio? If so, do you have evening plans?

 
At 6:15 PM, June 05, 2015, Blogger David Friedman said...

I am back in San Jose.

 
At 9:11 PM, June 05, 2015, Blogger David Friedman said...

How to act more rationally in your personal life is valuable, but rationality is also useful for understanding the behavior of other people, which may affect you.

 
At 9:35 PM, June 05, 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So how did you suggest to make the "dismal science" more interesting?

 
At 12:37 AM, June 06, 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ha, nevermind, I found the link.

 
At 1:39 AM, June 06, 2015, Blogger Grant said...

Agreed. I mean "personal life" in the sense of yourself and the people you interact with, instead of the more stereotypical use of economics to evaluate things you have no control over (like political policies).

 
At 8:15 PM, June 07, 2015, Blogger David Friedman said...

Anonymous: You might be interested in how economics got the "Dismal Science" label. It had nothing to do with Malthus.

http://www.econlib.org/library/Columns/LevyPeartdismal.html

 
At 1:53 PM, September 08, 2015, Blogger Ze'ev Felsen said...

You acknowledge that there are problems with assessing who is wealthier by the Athenian system of offering to trade everything I own for everything that you own. Won't that trade be turned down the vast majority of the time? I chose to turn my money into a house in Maryland rather than one in California. I chose to buy the books that I bought rather than the books that you bought and so on. Wouldn't I expect large costs to convert what I get from you into the things I used to have and still want? On top of all of that, there are items of sentimental value, though I expect if we did trade all our possessions, it would be fairly simple to negotiate "I want back all of my photo albums which of little value to anyone but me, and you want back all of your photo albums for the same reason."

I would interpret turning down the offer as demonstrating that the offeror is not significantly richer than the one declining, but not necessarily that the declining party is richer.

 
At 9:24 PM, September 08, 2015, Blogger David Friedman said...

Ze'ev:

Nothing is perfect. The problem is less serious than you suggest, since after the exchange the two parties can make further voluntary exchanges to get things back to the one who values them most.

I believe, however, that there is an account somewhere of a conflict between two men, both in love with the same slave girl, where one of them tried to use that mechanism to force the other, currently owner of the girl, to trade with him.

 
At 7:54 AM, September 12, 2016, Blogger Nathan Fryzek said...

You talked about professors potentially being biased about students based on how many questions they answer in class. One solution my professor uses is to have us use false names on tests. Have you ever thought of this or used this practice?

 
At 2:46 PM, September 13, 2016, Blogger David Friedman said...

Nathan:

Blind grading, where the test is labeled by something other than the student's name, is pretty common.

It's a little harder to give final grades that way, because the professor is typically combining several different sorts of information--paper grade, exam grade, in class performance.

 

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