What if?

I spent hours each day finding lecture notes, reading list, and syllabus on economics. Today, Deirdre McCloskey came into the picture.

She is such a character! I was first impressed by her syllabus for Principles of Microeconomics. John Steinbeck The Grapes of Wrath (1939) was required in the reading list. I then explored other courses taught by McCloskey. All the course requires reading novels and reflective notes.

"To that last end, on every Monday you must turn in as the price of admission a couple (2 or 3) pages of critical reflection (a "position paper") on the day's assigned reading. Typed, name, no title page, spellchecked, no right justifying, double spaced, not a "book report" in the way of Grade 5---an adult's comment on the reading, telling your colleagues something they might have missed, say, or some central idea that could use clarification, or some craziness you spot. Don’t just summarize. Assume that your boss has read the material somewhat hurriedly: you are helping her get more deeply into it."

I can see how beneficial the task is to her students: the ability to think on their own feet and think twice through the writing process. An economist, according to McCloskey, seldom reads good writings hence the bad writing skills he/she possesses. It is why reading is essential. She also wrote a book called Economics Writing. Here are the few tips from the distinguished professor:

1. Choose a reader and stick with her.

2. Avoid boilerplate. Don't be predictable.

3. No table-of-content paragraph

4. Watch your bad words: "via" "respectively" "and/or"

5. Create the habit of word rearrangement.

6. No elegant variation. Be straight to the point. Be concrete.

7. Read good book. Try Virginia Woolf.

The direct and honest way of teaching make me like her even more.

"You can sleep in class all you want. Be my guest. Really: I don’t mind. And bring any friend, parent, child, dog you want. No problem: no need to ask. But you cannot read, talk, eat, slouch insultingly [guys: listen up], pass notes, pick your nose, look bored (being bored is another matter: these rules are about externals that hurt your classmates, demoralizing them and me),dress inappropriately, do homework, chew gum, come late, leave early, or more generally act like a high-schooler. The class starts at 9:00 promptly. I don’t want to hear about Duh Traffic, or “running late”: be on time. Think of the class as a business meeting, with Deirdre as your boss.

On top of that, at the age of 53, she decided to "cross gender" from a "Donald". The outer change put her into a situation to "play in both sides of the streets". According to Deirdre McCloskey, economics has always been viewed as a "boy's game": Vigorous competition over scarce resources. What if economy functions under women' approaches? What if it is operated in a more co-operative manner within deep connections/bondings. It leads to a more liberalism approach toward economics.This surely sparkles a "what if" series in my head and I need time dig deep into.


1. Homepage: http://www.deirdremccloskey.com/

2. Economist Deirdre McCloskey: playing both sides of the street, https://www.smh.com.au/business/economist-deirdre-mccloskey-playing-both-sides-of-the-street-20131129-2ygwu.html

3. Reading list: http://www.deirdremccloskey.com/docs/docs_teaching/PainlessEconomics.pdf

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