Success in a knowledge economy
About the time I wrote this blog post, there was a consultation, a white paper, and a more elaborate framework to begin grading courses on unistats. I didn't know about it of how much the framework helps unistats readers know what to teach or what to apply-for.
The white paper is hard to read because of its cliches and gushing optimism. I found it tiring to read. For example it doesn't say that the number of Polytechnic course places has reduced to zero as Polytechnics changed their names to "University", but it does say that University places have increased. The tiring nature of the document is partly one of anticipation. If it begins like that, will it say anything useful about craft and vocational training in manufacturing, that suits self-employment an multiple scales of business, growing and shrinking, and isn't all geared to getting jobs for a few big employers or working as an upmarket kind of hand-made-art person? No. Will it try to say something gushing and over-confident? As I said, anticipation is tiring.
I suppose I have a kind of duty to read it if writing about it.
I also remember someone saying interesting things as a Keele economics lecturer in the 80s among other things, and should give his web site a plug and delete the link if it causes embarassment. Really, there should be nothing wrong with teaching at Keele - it's a nice place. But teaching the core of a subject to joint-honours or foundation students does reduce career prospects and increase scowley-stares from students if the subject is hard to compress.
I think that any prospective economics student would be daft to do a single honours degree. There would be too much chance of getting frustrated, seeing only other frustrated students, and dropping out while the keen ones are the least imaginative. I think that courses where people end-up doing economics next to a whole range of things are most likely to bring common sense to the subject, but how, exactly, on a Monday morning with 12 or 24 bored 20-odds scowling at you? Maybe that's why a tutor from Keele got interested in teaching about the subject.
I don't know if the page here relates to the white paper at all. This is more based on decades-old experience of being a student. I think it's better to make suggestions and show ignorance than to criticise without suggestions, so here goes.
"It's nothing earth-shattering"
... said a teacher about one of the models on my 1980s economics course,
What not to doWe'd just studied ASAD model to be followed by the ISLM model which suggests the ASAD model is wrong although teachers know and students guess that both are wrong. They are about tweaking the economy via interest rates and government deficits up or down; both have been done to death. They don't get to the point by saying why UK factories close, which in the mid 1980s, was an interesting subject to students with no job prospects and our redundant parents.
In lectures, we also learned about Cow Theory, by which democratic welfare states should be run-down in favour of a globalized sweatshop economy and pay towards the process, for example through the British Council's Delphe programme which funds just this kind of teaching at UK taxpayers' expense.
Who not to copyProfessor Patrick Minford of Cardiff Business School gets to the point in saying that most UK manufacturing would close with unilateral declaration of zero tariffs against goods from China, and he thinks this is a good thing (Sun article quoted by Evan Davis on Radio 4's More or Less program). This is how ignorant economists are allowed to be; they don't all understand that the tariff is to protect the higher costs of a welfare state because that's another subject called Social Policy. There's more say about him, personally, that is polite; he demonstrates why economics is a failed subject.
What to study. What kinds of problems do politically-minded macro students want to solve?
Back to teaching
These suggestions for teaching are nothing earth-shattering either. I'm not well-qualified to comment on what to teach. My short degree was taught before computerised statistics reached the Keele time-zone; computerised courses might be different. It's a pity to criticise economics courses and suggest nothing, so here goes.
Managing expectations; grouping people with the same expecations together
I think a problem with economics courses is high and conflicting expectations.
I remember that a problem on my course in all subjects (it was a subject-mixing college) was that the first bit repeated A level. This is known to teachers and students, but there is no strong incentive or easy solution for dealing with it. The long process of passing exams and getting course offers seems to be a rationing ritual which serves no other purpose: once you are at college, you start at the beginning of the subject again. I don't have a solution to this and so shall move-on to the next subject.
social insurance / social security / welfare state : passnotes
I think another problem with economics courses is their use of american syllabuses which leave-out social insurance, so I will explain social insurance for those who don't know about it.
by the way - sites were people post stuff like this
Expectation: information that is fit for purpose, accessible & trustworthy
Default settings. Quality Assurance Agency benchmarks: Red, amber & green
Talk about talk
Courses at other colleges
Expectation of value for money, and others not mentioned by the quango
Expectations are hard to manage among economics students
Trying to manage expectations among economics students
Better economics teaching: teaching everything at once in a way yet to be invented
Hope: dealing with the algebra thing
Hope: information that is more than just fit for purpose
Trade qualifications and help with self-employment bundled with a degree course
The need not to teach things twice to the same students after A-level
The possibility of cheap courses
Current National Student Survey questions, including optional follow-up questions and extra questions for NHS students
Other posts about economics teaching
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