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Education Technology

A New Way to Learn Economics (newyorker.com) 297

John Cassidy, writing for The New Yorker: With the new school year starting, there is good news for incoming students of economics -- and anybody else who wants to learn about issues like inequality, globalization, and the most efficient ways to tackle climate change. A group of economists from both sides of the Atlantic, part of a project called CORE Econ, has put together a new introductory economics curriculum, one that is modern, comprehensive, and freely available online. In this country, many colleges encourage Econ 101 students to buy (or rent) expensive textbooks, which can cost up to three hundred dollars, or even more for some hardcover editions. The project is a collaborative effort that emerged after the world financial crisis of 2008-9, and the ensuing Great Recession, when many students (and teachers) complained that existing textbooks didn't do a good job of explaining what was happening. In many countries, groups of students demanded an overhaul in how economics was taught, with less emphasis on free-market doctrines and more emphasis on real-world problems.
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A New Way to Learn Economics

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  • Huh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by imatter ( 2749965 ) on Tuesday September 12, 2017 @03:48PM (#55183705)
    I always thought the best way to learn econ was countless hours of Dopewars.
  • "many colleges encourage Econ 101 students to buy (or rent) expensive textbooks, which can cost up to three hundred dollars, or even more"

    at the bookstore.

    • which can cost up to three hundred dollars, or even more

      I love expressions like this. It encompasses any value from -infinity to +infinity, thus conveying absolutely no information whatsoever. It takes real skill to write something so vacuous.

  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Tuesday September 12, 2017 @03:56PM (#55183823) Journal

    "...who wants to learn about issues like inequality, globalization, and the most efficient ways to tackle climate change..."

    That's not a list of economics subjects, that's a political agenda.

    • My thoughts exactly.
    • inequality

      There is an ongoing debate in macroeconomics about the role of inequality. Does inequality impact growth, and if so negatively or positively? How do we measure inequality, and more generally distribution of resources? How do economic systems, and specific policy choices, influence the distribution of income and resources?

      These are fundamental aspects of economic study.

      globalization

      Again...what is "globalization?" How do we measure it? How has it benefited or harmed different countries and different segments of society w

      • There is an ongoing debate in macroeconomics about the role of inequality.

        It's not much of a debate......some economists wish they could prove inequality hurts economic growth, but they've been unsuccessful. If inequality does have an impact on economic growth, it's small enough that it's really hard to measure (getting lost in the noise).

        Besides, if you want to research those things, get a PhD. Economics 101 should be teaching the basics, the well-established aspects of economics.

      • Those 3 issues are primarily political, and until a person has spent at least a year studying economics, he's not knowledgeable enough to make sense of the economic aspects of those issues. If they're introduced before the student is capable of handling them mathematically, we can be reasonably sure that they will be introduced in a manner that elicits an emotional response.

        Oh, the poor! Economics must do something for them. (Or economics must prove that they're victims)
        Oh, globalization! Unfair competitio

    • by Xyrus ( 755017 )

      Right, because absolutely none of those are economic issues.

      $DIETY, where do you people come from? You're so blinded by ideology that you don't even make sense.

  • Nice one (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Tuesday September 12, 2017 @03:59PM (#55183843) Homepage Journal

    groups of students demanded an overhaul in how economics was taught

    [Golf clap].

  • by Noishkel ( 3464121 ) on Tuesday September 12, 2017 @04:00PM (#55183869)

    The very fact that the first line of this article reads like the beginning of a manifesto for far left causes was the first warning sign. The fact that this tripe goes out of it's way to mention Marxist economics pretty much closes the case. Given the fact that Marxism is probably the worst way to run an economy and society that the human species has yet come up with.

    Perhaps most damning is the very fact they spend more time in this article talking about how they're going to influence people than the pros and cons of this new teaching methodology. Good ideas don't need PR nearly as much as starting with your best ideas first than prove that they work with imperial evidence.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 12, 2017 @04:39PM (#55184195)

      You must have missed that the "Marxist economics" reference wasn't about Marxism in the curriculum but rather the opposite.

      "The core approach isn’t particularly radical. (Students looking for expositions of Marxian economics or Modern Monetary Theory will have to look elsewhere.)"

      The first sign of "liberal bias" tickled your amygdala so badly you stopped actually reading and started looking for boogeymen behind everything.

  • by skipkent ( 1510 ) on Tuesday September 12, 2017 @04:06PM (#55183927)

    I'll just stick with playing this for my kids every Christmas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

  • by liquid_schwartz ( 530085 ) on Tuesday September 12, 2017 @04:30PM (#55184121)
    Just flip a coin. No matter what position you want to take in economics some "expert" can be found to validate it.
  • by RightwingNutjob ( 1302813 ) on Tuesday September 12, 2017 @04:41PM (#55184201)
    can't be taught it. If you haven't learned fundamental things like "there's no free lunch" by the time you turn 15, you're hopeless.
  • by techdolphin ( 1263510 ) on Tuesday September 12, 2017 @05:21PM (#55184515)

    While I agree that Marxism does not work, neither does the free market. The test of any economic system if it meets the needs of its people. Marxism or at least the communist versions of Marxism failed. Under these systems there were shortages of basic goods such as food and clothes.

    Under the U.S. system, while we have plenty of food and clothes many people struggle to make ends meet. Our health care system is a failure with millions of people uninsured and many people with insurance who cannot afford medical care because of deductibles or copays. College is also unaffordable for many. So while we have plenty of food and clothes, many people cannot afford to meet their basic needs, especially when it comes to health care and education.

    The systems that seem to work best are the hybrid systems that combine the free market and socialism, such as the Scandinavian. They use the free market where appropriate and they use socialism where appropriate thereby meeting the needs of all or almost all of their citizens.

    • So many PhDs in economics didn't learn Marx. That man had an impact and did such brilliant work that it illustrates how hollow and poor an economics education has become. Marx was a genius and his work was probably mostly valid but he is forever stained with his FLAWED work which was embraced and extended into big nightmares for the world. Most our economics has been build upon ignorant beliefs about human nature, not just Marx. Today we have a lot of science on humans so informed changes to economics can

    • Insurance has no necessary connection to health care. Insurance is part of the reason health care is so expensive. Health care involves a patient paying a doctor for health services. Placing an insurance company between them provides a fat income for insurance company employees and owners, with the only benefit to the patient being risk diffusion. One substantial disadvantage of health insurance is that it disconnects the patient from cost considerations: he doesn't care how much his treatment costs, so pri

  • There is no science to economics. It's all propaganda devised by the economic victors to ensure their continued success. People who enroll in a college to "learn" economics are being indoctrinated to think a certain rigid inflexible way that benefits a minority.

    A new way to learn economics would be to eject the money-lenders from the classroom, but good luck trying to do that. Even Jesus never fully succeeded.

    • by bankman ( 136859 )

      There is no science to economics. It's all propaganda devised by the economic victors to ensure their continued success. People who enroll in a college to "learn" economics are being indoctrinated to think a certain rigid inflexible way that benefits a minority.

      So you don't know what economics is and have neither sat a course at university nor opened a standard economics textbook, right? What you describe is politics, not economics.

  • Relevent Reading (Score:2, Interesting)

    I just finished Nancy MacLean's "Democracy in Chains". (https://history.duke.edu/book/democracy-chains) I recommend it highly to anyone who thinks the "free market" is the be-all and end-all of economics and economic politics. It is a heavily researched and footnoted, yet very readable account of how the "economic freedom" crowd is incrementally taking over the USA using diabolical strategies hatched over the past 70 years or so. My reading staple lies in the genre of mysteries, horror and the like, but I

  • I don't agree capitalism is an 'economic system'.
    It's what happens when people have economic freedom.
    Which means people are allowed to keep the fruits of their labor.
    So they will invest in productivity, which they need capital for.
    Improving productivity is how we improve our quality of life.

    The system they're talking about includes government meddling, which always ends badly.
  • by zifn4b ( 1040588 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2017 @08:21AM (#55187313)

    ...it's a game. It always has been, always will be. Most it is common sense math. If you want to get more advanced, read about Economic Game Theory. There are winners and losers. It's not a non-zero sum game. The winners are the ones who know best how to play the game to their advantage much like the old game of Monopoly. If you don't try to win, you're guaranteed to lose.

    Life has always been a game of competition. Competition for resources, competition for mates and now with free market economics, it's competition for resources in the form of monetary value. Same as it always was.

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.

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