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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fidelity Fiduciary Bank

In Economics for Teachers, I finally got around to teaching some macro. As a microeconomist through and through, I must admit I haven't exactly been looking forward to this part of the semester - it's not that I don't find macro kind of interesting (especially these days), but I haven't taught it in a very long time. I'm pretty sure I bored the heck out of my class for most of Monday and Wednesday but the one bright spot was using a clip from Mary Poppins to motivate our discussion of the banking system. I used the scene that includes the song "Fidelity Fiduciary Bank" in which the Chairman of the Bank, and Mr. Banks, try to explain to the children that by investing Michael's tuppence, he can be part of "railways through Africa; dams across the Nile; fleets of ocean greyhounds; majestic, self-amortizing canals; plantations of ripening tea". In the end, Michael causes a run on the bank when he starts yelling 'give me back my money' to the old Chairman. So this led well into our discussion of how banks take people's savings and lend that money out to other people, and why it's a problem if everyone suddenly wanted to take their money out of their bank accounts.

One thing I love about using this clip was that most students have seen the movie but either had no idea, or had not thought about, what the heck the Chairman and Mr. Banks were talking about in the song.


  1. I read your post regarding the email your sent to students. I thought it was great. It weeds out anyone who doesn't see any benefit in attending class, and those students are the ones who generally just talk through lecture. Everyone would seem to benefit from this new policy, even you. Very incentive based. Should lead to a more engaging lecture I would imagine, to where more people start asking questions because of a smaller class size. How many students are now showing up, 50 %?

  2. Attendance seems to be generally between 250 and 300, versus 400-ish before. And I think there is less disruption (though I'm also trying to be better about stopping and calling people out for talking so that may be helping too). So this is definitely something I'll continue in the future.

  3. I think pairing that clip from Mary Poppins with the clip from It's A Wonderful Life, in whihc Jimmy Stewart explains why the money isn't in the Savings & Loan would make a great combination.


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