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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Why I'm Here

My interest in helping teachers of economics at all levels is partly driven by my research, which focuses on K-12 education policy, primarily school finance and teacher labor markets. That means I study how schools are financed (for example, how much revenue comes from the state and how much from local communities, and how does that vary across schools), and I study why teachers do or don’t choose to teach in particular schools. In a larger sense, I am interested in what policies will lead to better schools, particularly for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. My research has made me acutely aware of the challenges facing public school teachers as well as the high variance in the quality of teacher preparation programs. Thus, creating the Economics for Teachers course and this blog are my small attempts to support, and perhaps contribute to the professional development of, at least one group of teachers.

It is important for me to point out that I am first and foremost an economist, though I don’t think of myself as a ‘typical’ economist. I also love to teach, but I specifically love teaching economics. I once read somewhere that a professor is someone who thinks the world would be better off if everyone knew a little more about his or her subject; that pretty much sums up my philosophy. I believe that understanding economics can help students make better decisions in their lives and my love of teaching is a direct extension of my love of economics.

My love of teaching is also part of why I say that I don’t think of myself as a ‘typical’ economist. I want to expand non-economists’ understanding of economic thinking so I know I need to communicate in ways that non-economists can understand. The economics I love doesn’t require a lot of math (though I have been trained to appreciate the eloquence of a well-formed mathematical model), and it isn’t always associated with dollars, but it is found everywhere in our everyday lives. As a teacher, I am always looking for ways to get my students to think critically, to apply economic reasoning to their own lives, and many posts on this blog will be a record of search.

Related posts:
Why doesn't anyone know what economics is?
Do high school econ courses prepare students for college econ courses?
Economists are not taught pedagogy

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