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Getting there


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

got up at five to minister to son with aching belly, so not exactly into blogging right now...

basically repeated last week's policy of docking five points on vocab sheets for latecomers, and ten for the last five mins, also checked some latecomers personally as I stood guarding the door. Meanwhile utilizing the time to explain to a couple of people the idea of reading texts, lifting useful phrases and learning them, rather than some pseudo made-up personal creation not really useful for discussing economics.

Started class explaining I had accepted rubrics marks, credited group leaders with full marks for their pains, and deducted some marks for not totalling rubrics (extra work for me!), and explaining that I was doing research and would like to ask their permission to quote their work anonymously, passed round a sheet I had made for students to sign, and explained the difference between name and signature....everyone laughed at my illegible signature which I scrawled on the board to illustrate.

Then I whipped through a review, economic models, and how to measure with economic indicators, reading and describing trends and applying measurements to make decisions and take economic action(investment), and how today we were moving back out again to looking at the business cycle and how to manipulate it on the basis of theories of how it works.

So then we dived into the definitions, which I decided to read out twice with blackboard chalked diagrams to support understanding, gave students some time to consider, asked them to stand up and check with colleagues, and then asked for answers. Meanwhile one studet asked about exo and endogenous, so I showed the in and ex prefixes and explained in and out, so that they could connect to the meaning. I pooled about three answers, calling individual names, before I supplied the correct one by reading the definition again, to try and give some aural input.

Then I moved into a quick blackboard flowchart of the endogenous theory of the business cycle. Last year, although I was using the textbook and did this exercise, I fear I hadn't understood the process clearly myself. At that point I was asking students to agree or disagree with the theory, supplying concrete examples to support their dis/agreement. We round robined on the results. Somehow this year I haven't been able to set that up, it would take another day's homework, which I don't have! I think that was a great exercise last year, even though I had no clue of what I was doing, but I was effectively asking them to think about the validity of the endogenous model. In the worksheet this year I ironed out the order of the sentences to be connected, so that the flow from peak to trough of the psychological model was in clearer progression...so it makes more sense to me and everyone, but I'm not taking the time to ask students to work on the agreement pattern. Although they've done a lot of extra homework for the role-play compared to last year, I wanted to take the pressure off a bit with a day of no homework, so one more reason to let things be for now.

Instead I moved into the economist article after the break, explaining how to read titles and then look at first sentences of each paragraph to find the relevant info related to the title, and modeled how to think of the meaning involved (trigger schemata) and look for confirmation in the text, skipping to the next bit of info once the main gist is caught. And finally, as we hit the test time, do you or do you not disagree with the Economist's position on how best to influence the Japanese business cycle? I realized with trepidation that the Economist is advocating a rise in interest rates and manipulated (/controlled?) inflation, rather than increased taxation, and that if students asked me to explain loose monetary policy I would be hard put to explain it clearly....although I referred back to the flowchart during what minimal explaining I did.
So what do you think? I asked into the silence, this is your job as economists, to think about your advice to the policymakers...but anyway, there's no time right now, let's shelve it and do our review test.

In the break one of the students was telling me they had a friend in the Thursday class, and how word had got out I was from Harvard...Oxford, you guys.....so you know all about Economics, one questioned,,,,do you think I am hot in Economics, I queried back (ahhh techniques learned from Karen??) ...oh definitely, they replied, so I it would seem I am managing to maintain the 'teacher' as professional expert aura...! :P I personally feel much more in control of the issues this time, and I am wondering how things need time to kind of sink in and mould into shape, last year I jumped in whoosh sploosh and was winging things on inspiration. I'm wondering how to add in the great agreeing/disagreeing statements I have from students last year

Walking out I was chatting to one guest student from another faculty, I feared the content might be a little dense, oh no, they said, just right, which was nice to hear. One other student had told me in the break that Sophia sticks more with microeconomics and effectively avoids going deeply into macroeconomic theory, so that Keynesianism and other aspects would be heavy going in English for everyone. In fact there was no time to try out that gapfill part of the worksheet, which theoretical bit I ditched in favor of explaining the article and how to read it, because the summer assignment will be reading and summarizing an Economist article plus a personal opinion.