The current courses are online, and are therefore designed for a student who wants a self-paced environment. Discussion is a very large part of any course I teach and I like to keep the topics as current as possible. I feel like seeing the theory model itself in the real world is the best way to internalize it. In my courses I stress the fundamental concepts and governing rules-Yes, that means math. I never enjoyed courses that were based on memorization and regurgitation, and so I will not torture my students with them. Instead my course relies on the ability to synthesize the information into ideas to be applied to problems. If a student is able to apply the material to a problem and successfully defend an opinion with it, they have mastered the material.
While I am a fervent believer in knowledge for the sake of knowledge, I respect that most students are taking the courses they are with a reason. It is for this reason that I always ask my student what their long terms goals are, and why they took the course. Some students offer answers that I can only describe as trying to make a good first impression (“I have been interested in the Principles of Microeconomics” with no additional information), some very direct (“I want to get an “A” in the course. That’s all I want out of it.” “I’m taking the course because it is a requirement.”), and some that have a real interest (“I would like to be active in investment markets in the future, and feel that this would be valuable knowledge.”). I always try to spend time on the information students want, more than the information I want to get across.
In class I try to walk a line between making class engaging and submitting to Edu-Tainment. I reference current events as much as possible to keep the effects of the concepts in people’s minds. I also like to make sure and show students the little details that the media, the text, and in the campaign promises of political officials that show when they are using statistics to lie. I feel like these sub notes in the class are extremely important, and students seem to enjoy being armed with the tools to recognize misleading statements.
I feel that discussion is vital to a successful classroom setting, and so I constantly ask questions that may not have a direct answer. Open ended questions that begin with “What do you think” are the best way to assess mastery of the material, and work of critical thinking. I attempt to make my courses concept based, instead of pounding vocabulary and memorization down my students’ throats. One unfortunate part of the material is the tradeoff between efficiency(You get what you put in) and equity(people get a more "fair" outcome), and so "Is that fair?" is another of my favorite follow up questions.
I’ll be honest, I love doing this. I would lecture on economics in a phone booth if they wouldn’t lock me up for it, and do so frequently in the car because they can't. As a final word for anyone who feels they don’t need this course, remember a phrase I heard from a lecturer whose name I can’t recall. “You need to study economics, if for no other reason, than to protect yourself from people who say ‘It’s just simple economics!’”