Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Some Students, You Just Can't Teach...

Perhaps the most famous scene from Cool Hand Luke...the "failure to communicate"

Sometimes teaching is like that.  The other day, I handed out an optional problem set.  I have 120 students in my "Econ for Non-majors" class.  Met the class 40 minutes early, before class really starts.  I would guess that 80 of the students were there, because there is a midterm coming up. My main theme has been, "You cannot memorize this.  You have to learn to work the problems, and shift the curves, by your intuition about how prices work!"  I spent 30 minutes on the problem set, and tried to get them really to understand how taxes and subsidies shift supply curves.  I thought it went pretty well.

I have a friend, a junior, in the class (almost everyone else is a freshman).  He came up after class  laughing.  Apparently one of the 40 or so students who did not come early came in, sat down, and asked her neighbor what was the subject of the problem set. The person who had been there--and had listened to me say, "Don't memorize!  Learn!"--told the latecomer, "Oh, not much.  He said remember that subsidies shift supply curves up and to the left."

AAAAAARGH!  She told her two things:  1.  Here is a fact to memorize (which I told them not to do).  2.  That "fact" happens also to be WRONG (which is WHY I tell them not to memorize).

Some just can't teach.  But if this is how she wants it, that is how she is going to get it, come midterm time.  Sigh.

1 comment:

Justin Ross said...

Sounds like they were deliberately sabotaging the lazy free rider. Pretty funny.