Friday, March 23, 2012

Finding $20 in the Dryer! What is an Economist Educator Anyway?

Isn't it great when you find $20 in the dryer, or in that old coat you have not worn in a couple of years?

I have been following a really nice blog for a while--Economics for Teachers: Musings About Teaching Economics which is done by Jennifer Imazeki at San Diego State. The latest post is a wonderful one on grading. I finally explored the start here part of the blog---it was like putting my hand in the pocket of an old suit and finding treasure because I discovered that a task I had been dreading was done for me!

I needed to come up with a definition of what an Economist Educator is. I have been talking to instructors of economics since....well, the Carter Administration quite frankly. You can tell in the first minute or so whether they are what I would term an Economist Educator. They are...

  • the one who's classes fill the quickest---even the 8 a.m. ones. 
  • The one who you can picture stopping at the classroom door and whispering to themselves 'It's showtime!' as they step into the classroom. 
  • The instructor who runs into that biology student 2 years after she had him for principles of economics and he starts the conversation telling her about the 'opportunity costs' of taking this internship over the summer rather than that job. 
  • the one who truly believes that 'Instruction is an Art, and a Gift that We Give to the Future.'
Here is how Jennifer puts it, and I would not change a word:

        "It is important for me to point out that I am first and foremost an economist, though I don’t think of myself as a ‘typical’ economist. I also love to teach, but I specifically love teaching economics. I once read somewhere that a professor is someone who thinks the world would be better off if everyone knew a little more about his or her subject; that pretty much sums up my philosophy. I believe that understanding economics can help students make better decisions in their lives and my love of teaching is a direct extension of my love of economics.

     My love of teaching is also part of why I say that I don’t think of myself as a‘typical’ economist. I want to expand non-economists’ understanding of economic thinking so I know I need to communicate in ways that non-economists can understand."

Thanks for helping me out here, Jenn, but I am sure now my boss will now find something else for me to do. Oh, and thank you, all you other Economist Educators out there for all that you do.