Academics back students in protests against economics teaching


Reader RichardH sent me the link to The Guardian article Academics back students in protests against economics teaching.

The Academics said in a letter to the Guardian that a “dogmatic intellectual commitment” to teaching theories based on rational consumers and workers with unlimited wants “contrasts sharply with the openness of teaching in other social sciences, which routinely present competing paradigms”.

They said: “Students can now complete a degree in economics without having been exposed to the theories of Keynes, Marx or Minsky, and without having learned about the Great Depression.”

Before reading the article, I had no idea that the teaching of economics had deteriorated so badly since I first learned economics in the early 1960s. Perhaps this article explains why I was so mystified by what Paul Krugman had to say as noted in my previous post How Milton Friedman Fooled The Economists. In that post I marveled at how Krugman was seemingly only recently remembering what he learned in the early 1960s just as I had learned it.

If the award laden economists who had learned all of this in their youth could forgot it as they advanced in their careers, I guess I shouldn’t be so harsh on President Obama for his failure to understand economics.  After all he was taught by these forgetful bozos.

I can imagine in other disciplines that what previous scholars may have taught can go in and out of fashion, but it was hard for me to imagine that the teaching of fairly recent historical events can go out of fashion.

It’s as if some grad student in an economics class would say, “Professor, I just read in the news about the elimination of the Glass-Steagall act during the Clinton administration.  What was that all about, and why did we think we needed a Glass-Steagall act in the first place?”  Would the Professor say, “Oh we don’t teach about that anymore.  That pertains to historical events that can never happen again, because things like the Glass-Steagall act was created to prevent a recurrence.”

No wonder there was not a whole generation of new economics students reacting to the abolition of Glass-Steagall the way I reacted to it.  As it was happening, I was thinking, “How can they do that?  Do they want to repeat the Great Depression?”

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