Greg Mankiw had an Op-Ed in the New York Times recently about the changes that he will be implementing in his freshman economics course as a result of the recent "great recession."It's interesting that even though there is a frenzied discussion about what economic educators have been doing wrong in the past few years, there is little discussion about what they have been doing wrong for the past hundred. To this observer, there is a need for a genuine re-imagining of the educational process.
It can be argued that there isn't much wrong with the traditional "Tell 'em what you're gonna tell em, tell 'em, then tell 'em what you told 'em" method of teaching, but there wasn't much wrong with swords until europeans found out about gunpowder.
I'm not saying that there is no value in the traditional system, and I say that not just because some of my professors might stumble across this website. Arnold Kling blogged a few weeks ago that for an autodidact, the presence of the Internet makes for a golden age of learning.
It's cheap to harp on the transformative power of the internet, but I wonder why there isn't more of a societal method to acknowledge autodidactic learning of the sort that can take place over the internet.
The exercise of blogging (when done regularly, sorry for sparse updates) is after all much like writing a spate of reaction essays to topics as they are presented by cobloggers and the news cycle. Isn't there grist somewhere in there for an educational process to replace the quiz-and-lecture format?
There's nothing wrong with kickin' it old school, but a new school needs to emerge.