What are we trying to do with this blog?

My idea is that Economic Theory, as currently taught in universities and colleges all over the world, is deadly to the welfare of mankind. Why? Here is how I see it:

  1. It focuses on Wealth Creation and Growth, whereas the main economic problem is poverty and inequity. Trickle Down theory is implicitly assumed, without any mention, in texts on economic growth. 
  2. It teaches that there are inexorable economic laws in operation, obscuring the reality that we have the freedom to change things. Furthermore, the Invisible Hand teaches that these inexorable economic laws lead to good outcomes, wherease the reality is that extremely poor outcomes are achieved.

So what can we do to change the state of affairs?

  1. Build consensus that change is needed — especially winning over teachers, as they will be the key to the training of the second generation.
  2. Find an agenda for change that we can agree on — be activists and train activists, who will work on behalf of the poor and oppressed — to a far greater extent than commonly realized, these people are poor and oppressed due to faulty economic theories, supporting exploitative politico-economic systems.

I believe that economics is about creating economic systems which will allow everyone on this planet to lead lives with dignity and without deprivation of basic needs. Once we agree on this goal, then we can argue about what are the most effective means to bring about this outcome.

Asad Zaman

  1. ABOUT

    This blog is about pedagogical issues on how and what we teach in economics from a real-world perspective. The target of economics education is the comprehension of reality in its economic dimensions, that is to say, the understanding of values, ideas and practices that support the reproduction of material life. Economics education needs to face a reality where the evolution of economic forces is historically shaped by the social dimension of the markets and the political nature of society. In particular, economic and social challenges, like poverty and inequality, demand the apprehension of the boundaries of economics as a particular knowledge oriented to development issues.

    Economics teaching in the 21st century presupposes a great heterogeneity between national economic structures, institutions and social outcomes of the capital accumulation process. In this setting, real-world institutions are overwhelmed by tensions, contradictions and forces of resistance that restrict the universality of economic laws. In truth, this understanding supports an emphasis on the historical dimensions of economic analysis. The ability of the economist to deal with “mankind and the ordinary events business of life”- recalling Marshall- shapes the possibilities of observation, analysis and interpretation of the social and economic challenges for further policy intervention.

    This blog is an informal space where pedagogical experiences from a real-world perspective could be spread in order to promote a collaborative platform. New perspectives regarding knowledge, abilities and attitudes are always present in a significant learning process where the target is the students’ intellectual autonomy characterized by the development of a solid reflection-base to think and a critical attitude towards the political, economic and social reality where he lives.

    Posts on the didactics in theory or applied fields, the changing conceptions of the learning process, the innovative contents of disciplines, besides the construction of innovative technological experiences and strategies in economics education are particularly welcome.

    Maria Alejandra Madi

  2. Asad Zaman said:

    Definitely, Maria has said roughly the same thing as I have but in a much smoother and less confrontational manner. This has its virtues and disadvantages. My statement is likely to turn off those who are under the clutches of neoclassical, and perhaps we will have blog which preaches to the already converted.

    However, I dont see the blog as performing a conversion function. I dont want to see arguments and debates.I want to see tools and strategies being used by those who are working on the same goals — making a revolution in the teaching of economics.

    Thus we have two distinct options, and I think we should discuss and decide on one of the two — it will make a huge difference:

    option A: (MARIA option): Keep the blog open to all, heterodox, orthodox, and hope to gently persuade readers to come over to a revolutionary outlook. Thus we will welcome good pedagogical approaches to teaching orthodox micro flavored with a little behavioral, and other mild dissents from mainstream.

    option B (Asad option) — in fact I do favor this option. Keep this blog for a narrow circle of people who are already fully on board with making a revolution. Discuss and exchange stories on how we can create more revolutionaries. We have a narrow readership and membership, but more concentrated strategy decisions — the inner war council, you might say.

    Discussion and Votes?

  3. Hi everyone!

    A spirited debate on the reformation of economics education is welcomed and necessary. I am thrilled to participate in it. The key word is education: we need to educate our students and the public, rather than proselytize, which unfortunately is too often the modus operandi of neoclassical economics. Proselytization is little differnet from bullying and no better example of this was written by Edward Fullbrook as a chapter in my book (Handbook of Pluralist Economics Education) and has circulated on the internet. Education is our most endeavor as human beings: t is absolutely necessary for ourselves, our planet and the future generation.

    While I think we are agree on the need to educate rather than proselytize, a much more difficult question is what is education and what does it mean to educate? And a related question is what should we be teaching our students. To answer the first question, I believe the key to education is to foster doubt about exisitng institutions- why are they structured as is? Who benefits? Where is the locus of power? Can the exisitng situation be improved for all rather than the select few? Another key in education is to foster humility and respect for other views. This doesn’t mean we must agree with everyone; on the contrary, disagreement (and doubt) is necessary for the advancement of knowledge.

    The goal of reforming economics education is too important to exclude either specific beliefs or a specific modus operandi. We should welcome all suggestions, and all blueprints for change, from the barely nudging to the radical reformation. A pluralist tent for reforming economics education should be broad enough to harbor all views. To exclude any one veiw is to mirror the myopic and self-deating practice of neoclassical economics.

    We have much to learn from each other and I don’t want to limit my own learning by restricting who I can dialogue with. I view the above distinction as artificial and counter-productive. Instead I view the comments as different degrees of the same objective: the reformation of economics education.

  4. As an economics student, I agree completely. The way in which economics is taught is deeply flawed. Some of the most important issues are ignored or barely discussed, while what we do study is barely relevant. Fundamental change is desperately needed.

  5. Jeff Z said:

    So, last semester I had a good experience that I wanted to share. This blog seemed like a good place to do it, but it is not at all clear how one would go ahead and submit a blog entry as opposed to a comment on an existing entry. Could you clarify the procedure for this? Thank you!

    • Maria Alejandra Madi said:

      Thanks for your interest in the blog. You can send your contribution to me (alejandra_madi@yahoo.com.br) and I will post it in the blog.


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