Saturday, April 08, 2006

Teaching economics

Does teaching economics make a difference? Many of us fervently hope so. Today's International Herald Tribune (April 8-9), includes the following front page story:

"Economics, French-style...looking behind the rebellion on jobs law ... PARIS: Danielle Scache tries to avoid using the term 'capitalism' in her economics class because it has negative connotations in France. Instead, she teaches her high school students about the market economy, a slightly less controversial term she started using last year after a 2-month internship at the dairy giant Danone. That was an experience that did away with one of her own predjudices, she said. 'I was surprised to see that people actually enjoyed working in a company,' said Scache, who is 59. 'Some of them were more enthusiastic than many teachers I know.'... Scache, who has been teaching economics for 37 years, said her stint at Danone made her realize how little the official syllabus focuses on the market...."

The article is priceless in how it depicts economics instruction in France. Many of us hope that ours in the U.S. is more friendly to the idea of markets and spontaneous orders -- but you never know.

I have been teaching in Paris for two weeks now and must say that my students were bright, attentive and open -- and much more sophisticated than the curriculum described in the IHT piece.