Welcome to the "blog" for the Economics course at Mounds Park Academy. This is my sixth time teaching the course here at MPA, and I think we've done it under a different format/time period each time. I would definitely suggest bookmarking this site, because we will refer to it almost every day.
Course philosophy: Thomas Carlyle once described economics as "the dismal science." Too often, the way the subject is taught only reinforces this characterization. There can be a mind-boggling amount of math and graphing in advanced economics, and the vast number of terms and concepts can take years to fully understand. We'll try to avoid both of those pitfalls in the next few months. This course will aim to introduce you to the basics of economics with an emphasis on understanding the world around us. This study does not need to be "dismal." In fact, the study of economics can be interesting, controversial, and (hopefully) entertaining.
Course goals: Students will:
- understand the basic concepts of economics
- learn key ideas in macroeconomics, microeconomics, and international economics
- use problem-solving skills to approach economic issues and problems
- investigate more deeply economic topics of interest to themselves
- better understand the role of economics in the world around them
- become more informed economic decision-makers
Resources: We will use a variety of resources in this course.
- An encouraging trend in recent years has been the publication of more books on economics aimed at general audiences. One of those books will be our required reading. Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science is the resource we will use. I actually laughed out loud a couple times as I first read it. (Keep your comments to yourself about what that says about me...) You'll need to have your own copy of this book and bring it with you each day.
- We'll do some supplemental readings from Economics Explained: Everything You Need to Know About How the Economy Works and Where It's Going, by Robert Heilbronner and Lester Thurow. This is a very readable and informative introduction to economics.
- There is a wealth of economic information on the Internet. Some is simply raw data. Government, industry and particular businesses or interest groups sponsor others. Educational institutions and other teachers generate still more. We'll use simulations, "games," and other resources when appropriate.
- Of course, economics is happening all around us. To track current developments, we'll make extensive use of newspapers, magazines, and television news.
- Additional resources such as guest speakers, presentations, and debates will be incorporated.
On what will you be graded? You can expect it to look something like this... Give me a few days to iron out all the specifics.
Attendance and Participation
Required Blog Entries
- Current Events
- Activities "Journal"
- "New Ideas from Dead Economists" Panel
- Economic Issue Presentation/ Discussion
- "Taking Sides" Presentation
Optional (Choice) Readings and Assignments
Homework for tomorrow - Wednesday, October 29th
Please read both the Foreward and the Introduction in Naked Economics for next class. Be prepared to discuss main points.
We'll pay tribute to the MPA "5 x 10 program" with our own "Economics 5 x 10s." You will be asked to read a short chapter from Sex, Drugs & Economics: An Unconventional Introduction to Economics. Your job for next time will be to share the basics of the chapter with the rest of us. We're looking to see economic concepts in action and to begin to use some of the vocabulary of economists...
Your group's "presentations" should include each of the following:
- summary of interesting information
- questions or topics for discussion
- use of "economics" vocabulary
- attempt to use a supply/demand graph
Don't panic. Your group will have about 10 minutes total, including questions and discussion.
The chapters deal with these topics. (You may not get your first choice...)
- Illegal Drugs
- Food Fights