Thursday, May 16, 2013

If I could redesign the Macro I curriculum

First of all, I would clear out a lot of the clutter. Do Macro I students really need to be learning that 3% of our energy consumption is from biomass sources? That furniture manufacturing accounted for $7 billion of output in 2005? That the minimum for hours worked in a family business in order to be classified as employed is 15?

Instead, I would focus in like a laser on teaching them everything they need to know to understand a single macroeconomic model, like, say, the Keynesian cross. Then I would spend the last few weeks of the class comparing that model to an alternative, so that they could understand the differences.

I think that most students would actually remember my class five years later.


  1. Gene, if someone emailed me and said, "That traitor Callahan is now saying he wishes he could just teach Keynes to his Macro students," I would have called him a damnable liar.

    1. Any simple model will do, Bob. What I did this semester was spend a couple of classes on Hayek after I finished Keynes.

      And I tell them repeatedly, "I am teaching you how to use a model: I am not telling you to believe in it." In fact, believing any model is a mistake.

      That is the real skill they could pick up: how to use a model as a tool of thought.

  2. Do they really teach the biomass/furniture stuff in preference to the "alternative macro models" approach when teaching macroeconomics?

    If so, just another reason to downgrade faith in humanity.

    It's a bad sign when my reaction is always, "You mean they don't already do it like that?"


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