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.

3 comments:

  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.

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    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.

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  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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