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New issue of Journal of Economics and Financial Education is now available and it contains a symposium on teaching Austrian economics.
Posted by Peter Boettke on February 22, 2012 at 11:58 AM | Permalink
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Looks good. How do you save a copy of a PDF from JEFE?
February 22, 2012 at 12:19 PM
Not sure who you would contact about this, but the link to Dr. Horwitz' article is 404'd.
February 22, 2012 at 12:58 PM
after reading this post through i have to say that it is quality writing. many thanks for sharing.
tiffany rings |
February 22, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Wow. What a great symposium. I couldn't open the Horwitz article, and I didn't have much interest in the Ayn Rand and Economic Development papers (not really Austrian economics).
About the Boettke paper. I have always enjoyed his enthusiasm. Boettke cares a lot about his students, and I appreciate that about him. Students are lucky to have him as a teacher. But, with that said, let me say that I don't agree with everything he says in the article. I could quibble with all kinds of statements in his article, but the general message -- which is basically, Get along with your colleagues and join libertarian organizations -- is NOT what true scholarship is about. Sure, it might help to get you a nice 3-3 teaching job at some small college in Utah, but it does not gurantee an intellectually rich career.
I would say that your ability to be part of the "pack" has no bearing on your quality of scholarship. In fact, I have always found that true intellectuals are not very sociable people. They are pensive and introspective, and sometimes can be downright churlish. But their minds are brilliant, and in the end that is what it comes down to. Telling students to make sure they conform to the libertarian group so as not to become a "lunch tax" is not very productive.
Don't be afraid to be solitary and isolated. In my experience, true quality research and real intellectual productivity requires those sort of things. A social life and academic rigor are really inversely related, and don't let anyone tell you differently. I know that from experience. If I want to have a social life, I have to give up serious intellectual study, and vice versa.
austrian away |
February 22, 2012 at 10:05 PM
If you want to know how not to get a job and how not to have respect from your colleagues and how not to persuade people, listen to Matt.
Steve Horwitz |
February 23, 2012 at 12:54 AM
Armen Alchian and Milton Friedman didn't strike me as recluses.
February 23, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Please read again. I do not say libertarian groups, I say with your colleagues in the _economics_ profession.
You are no doubt correct that being isolated and solitary is ESSENTIAL for the actual act of scholarship. You must, as James Buchanan always stressed, practice the consistent application of the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair. You have to be willing to spend hours alone reading, thinking, and writing. You don't look to others for validation, etc.
But even as you must be solitary and isolated for much of your study and your writing, you also have to be willing to engage others, learn from others, test your ideas against others criticisms, and to READ THOSE SOCIAL SIGNALS about the weak spots in your argument, and failures to communicate to try to improve. When you teach, you have to not just impart knowledge, but be engaged in active communication. When you interact with colleagues, you need to treat their ideas seriously and respect their perspective.
So yes a large part of being a scholar is solitary and isolated, but an essential segment of your life as an academic is dealing with others --- your students, your peers primary above them. And if you treat them with disrespect, you will be in trouble. Most are not capable of being so brilliant that people will put up with their anti-social antics because their work is just so profound. A lot of people THINK their work is profound, and thus when they are dismissed they pride themselves that they are unrecognized geniuses. They are deluded.
We need to engage others -- both in terms of learning from them, and in trying to communicate with them what we have learned. Thus the tension we all face in our professional lives --- the comfort with being solitary and isolated as we study and write, and the need to learn, test our ideas, and communicate our ideas with others.
In some weird way, the fact that you read my article as you did communicates to me that I wasn't as clear as I thought I was being about this. Being socially acceptable is neither necessary nor sufficient. But if you are not a socially acceptable person, the brilliance of your work must be at such a level that everyone will overlook your quirks. That is a much rarer occurrence than most folks realize.
Peter Boettke |
February 23, 2012 at 09:05 AM
Oh, and just a correction about student placement. Former students are teaching not just at Utah State (which by the way doesn't have a 3-3 load, but a slightly better deal and the financial compensation is quite good, and I don't think I would call it "small school"). I have former students teaching at UBC (Canada), U of Penn, Duke, as well as a variety of state universities as well as liberal arts colleges throughout the US from coast to coast. And I have the great privilege to work closely with 3 former students and now close colleagues on a day to day basis. Just this year, 1 of our students just accepted an appointment at Kenyon College (a top 40 liberal arts college), and another student just accepted a position at Ohio State.
So Matt please do not disparage the students, their work, and their placements. And I will tell you one other thing --- as someone who greatly benefited from professors who taught 4-4 teaching loads at a small college in PA (Grove City College), I can tell you those professors changed my life and taught me so much I have used throughout my life. To me they were engaged in an amazing act of individual transformation through education. We should never disrespect what these teachers do. I would say that for community college teachers as well --- who can help young people so much. Part of my message in that article you read is "Embrace the calling that is teaching." It is not only a worthy profession, it is a noble and inspiring one.
Peter Boettke |
February 23, 2012 at 09:17 AM
somehow my long response to Matt disappeared. What I did was agree with him that the act of scholarship is itself solitary and isolated, but the act of teaching and communicating the results of your scholarship is a social process. Negotiating that trade off successfully is what is required.
Peter Boettke |
February 23, 2012 at 09:25 AM
I didn't want to personalize it but Pete's point about Grove City hits home with me of course.
If Matt thinks my 3-3 teaching load has got in the way of an intellectually rich career, he should think again.
Steve Horwitz |
February 23, 2012 at 06:52 PM
In a market today that we are living in hi technology with hi tech financial institution. Economics must dont forget to have atleast a masteral on it.
February 23, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Horwitz just posted this over at the BHL blog...
Given that I'm banned from the BHL blog...
...just wanted to offer a few comments. As a huge fan of Bastiat I really enjoyed the article but I'm extremely confused by this statement..."Bastiat may not have made any real contributions to economic theory"
What? Um. Haven't we all heard it argued that the opportunity cost concept is arguably the single most important economic concept?
And wasn't Bastiat the first economist to develop the opportunity cost concept in his essay on the Seen vs the Unseen?
Not only that...but a leader of the OWS movement, Margaret Flowers, made this argument on C-Span the other day...
"Each of us has a finite number of resources. So where are you going to put your resources? Where are you going to put your time and your money? Are you going to put it into trying to elect somebody into this current system that's broken? Or are you going to put that into building something?"
Isn't that an opportunity cost argument? Would Bastiat really have disapproved of any of the practical suggestions that Flowers made?
February 23, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Yes, thank you for the clarification.
I suppose Professors Boettke and Horwitz just attach more importance to "teaching" than I do. For me, learning does not take place in the classroom, but rather in the privacy and seclusion of one's personal study.
From my own experience, I can say that I don't really understand something UNTIL and UNLESS I read it. Just going into a classroom and listening to someone lecture is not very productive.
So, I would argue that what makes someone a good teacher is not their rapport with students in the classroom, but rather their ability to engage students with their writings and publications. That is what it is all about for me.
Now, of course, it doesn't hurt to be charismatic, and lord knows that Professors Boettke and Horwitz certainly have that going for them. Boettke is wonderfully enthusiastic and Horwitz is a very effective public speaker. But in 80 years these things will be the subject of anecdotes by students who had them. The real legacy they leave behind will be their writings and substantive contributions to the literature. In the end, that is what matters. And that is how I learn.
austrian away |
February 25, 2012 at 10:55 AM
Teaching is not just lecturing. Personally, I view classes as an opportunity for students to come see me in my office about things they are thinking about. Talking with Rich Vedder and Lowell Gallaway about culture and ideas is a large part of who I am today. THAT is what I remember about my undergraduate experience at OU and that is what I try to recreate with my students. Similarly, reading papers is valuable but I learned FAR more from conversations about papers with my classmates than I did from the reading the papers themselves. Education is a social activity as much as it is a solitary one.
Joshua Hall |
February 25, 2012 at 11:58 AM
All very well put, but we just happen to disagree. Sure, it is exciting to talk about ideas with people similarly interested, but productive conversation presumes knowledge, and knowledge comes from reading, and not from social activities.
One of my intellectual friends of mine, who takes the same position I do, said it best ---- "No one is as good as their book."
I think that perfectly captures what I am trying to express here. The world of ideas is much more exciting than the world of real people.
austrian away |
February 26, 2012 at 08:20 AM
You are so fundamentally wrong here Matt that I don't even know where to start.
First, you don't see the irony in someone like yourself who understands spontaneous order and unintended consequences demeaning the idea that knowledge, real knowledge, can emerge from conversation with others, even if they haven't read everything you have?
Second, *I learned more from my conversations with peers and faculty in grad school than I learned from reading on my own.* PERIOD.
The problem, Matt, is when you think learning is solitary, you never have to test your ideas in the rigorous world of other people, and not just people who know what you know but who know what you don't. Learning comes from discussion and the failure to communicate that is inevitable in real human interaction.
People who think they can learn only (or mostly) by just reading alone are far more likely, I would think, to become dogmatic and inflexible and lack the ability to recognize their own biases and limitations. In other words, science isn't an alternative to "social activities" (to use your phrase), IT IS A SOCIAL ACTIVITY.
Why do you think the GMU faculty say the highlight of the day at GMU is lunch?
Steve Horwitz |
February 26, 2012 at 11:06 AM
Because there is a fantastic cafeteria and very reasonable prices?
Rafe Champion |
February 27, 2012 at 06:31 AM
More seriously, looking at Steve's paper, the Austrian approach gells with a broad approach to the social and human sciences. There is a systemic tendency to integration rather than over-specialization and fragmentation. This comes through the analytical scheme of praxeology and also Popperian situational analysis and Parsonian action theory (1937). As sketched in this reading guide to The Poverty of Historicism.
All three offered a framework for the study of economics and the other human sciences which could have:
Maintained sociology and economics as an integrated discipline.
Sponsored partnerships between economists and students of all social institutions – law, politics, literature, religion and cultural studies at large.
Ensured that “high theory” and empirical studies informed, enriched and corrected each other.
Contributed to good public policy, especially by monitoring the results of increased regulation and intervention in the marketplace by Big Government and the impact of the erosion of the “bourgeois virtues”. This work could have commenced when the role of government was much smaller and less entrenched.
It didn't happen. Still, better late than never.
Rafe Champion |
February 27, 2012 at 06:51 AM
Since the topic of how to succeed in academia came up, I thought I would point out that Mike Munger has a great deal of useful advice that is available in written form and podcast at kosmosonline.org. Kosmos is directed toward classical liberals, but much of the content on graduate study, research, and teaching is useful to any academic.
February 28, 2012 at 12:12 PM
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Peter J. Boettke: Living Economics: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
Christopher Coyne: Doing Bad by Doing Good: Why Humanitarian Action Fails
Paul Heyne, Peter Boettke, David Prychitko: Economic Way of Thinking, The (12th Edition)
Steven Horwitz: Microfoundations and Macroeconomics: An Austrian Perspective
Boettke & Aligica: Challenging Institutional Analysis and Development: The Bloomington School
Coyne & Leeson: Media, Development, and Institutional Change (New Thinking in Political Economy Series)
Peter T. Leeson: The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates
Christopher Coyne: After War: The Political Economy of Exporting Democracy (Stanford Economics & Finance)
Philippe Lacoude and Frederic Sautet (Eds.): Action ou Taxation
Peter Boettke and David Prytchitko: Market Process Theories
Peter Boettke (Ed.): The Legacy of Friedrich von Hayek
Peter Boettke: The Political Economy of Soviet Socialism: the Formative Years, 1918-1928
Peter Boettke: Calculation and Coordination: Essays on Socialism and Transitional Political Economy
Frederic Sautet: An Entrepreneurial Theory of the Firm
Peter Boettke & Peter Leeson (Eds.): The Legacy of Ludwig Von Mises
Peter Boettke: Why Perestroika Failed: The Politics and Economics of Socialist Transformation
Peter Boettke (Ed.): The Elgar Companion to Austrian Economics