Teaching Economics: Part One

Ok I thought this conversation merits a post. Given my writer’s block, I’ll just copy paste it here. And i’m adding some links to the conversation now. The counterparty to this conversation is of course

. You can find his blog here .

Karthik: fuck
i’ve forgotten basic micro eco
Aadisht: ?
Karthik: do you read greg mankiw’s blog?
Aadisht: mp
Karthik: ok\
basicaly today he’s put post where he asks readers t odraw graph nad figure out how taxes on export will affect the wheat industry
and i’ve forgotten!
which makes me believe that this graph business is extermely non-intuitive
Aadisht: it’s okay da
I never knew it in the first place
Karthik: it’s a conspiracy by the BA types who can’t learn demand supply in the normal way
Aadisht: I always used to draw graphs from first principles for every graph question

Ok I guess I’m likely to get flak for that comment about the “BA types”. I’ve had the opportunity to interact with a few Economics toppers (undergrad)? from Delhi University. And I’ve found them extremely weak on fundamentals. They know what the graphs look like. They know the definitions well. They know the formulae. But are frequently found wanting when it comes to absolute fundamentals.

Considering that there are hajaar people in my sample (technically, in IITese, anything greater than 2 is hajaar), and given that DU is considered to be the best univ in India for a UG in Economics, I think my generalization is justified.

Coming back, Aadisht says that this lack of fundamentals in these people might be attributed to inappropriate teaching. I won’t rule out that reason. I have the sneaking feeling that lecturers and professors in DU are also mostly from the same background – with an undergrad in Economics. And would have themselves learnt stuff the same way.

During the International Math Olympiad Training Camp in Bombay in 1999, we had a guest lecture by a Physicist (don’t recall the name; i think it’s Sunil Dutta; but not sure). And he started off with the line that Math is too important a subject to be taught only by mathematicians. I think the same is true of economics also.

I hope to write a few more blog posts in the next few days regarding the teaching of various “humanities” subjects in India. As and when enthu and time permit.

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