Word finally arrived today that I will be attending a teacher workshop at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta next Wednesday (9/28). The workshop is concentrated on showcasing new online courses and an assessment system for teachers and students. The pleasant thing about workshops at the Fed. is how well you are taken care of. Breakfast and lunch is provided. This is not sandwiches mind you, but usually a full meal in a grand dining room. A great way to see your taxes at work. Another terrific thing about workshops at the Fed., are the free class materials one receives. It’s always helpful to have numerous, diverse, resources to implement into the classroom. I just hope the workshop is better than last year’s.
The topic of the workshop last year was “Teaching Economics in American History.” Economist Mark C. Schug delivered the guest lecture using and soliciting his book, “Economic Episodes in American History.” I felt that he overreached with some of his arguments about colonization (at one time he suggested it would be a good idea for someone to re-colonize Haiti to fix their situation) and other topics. The book is a narrow look at the past, focusing intensely on history in economic terms. The preface says:
The main purpose of EEAH is not to teach economics. Its main purpose is to help you understand U.S. history….As a result, they (history textbooks) do not provide accounts of the past that describe and explain people, events, and ideas by reference to choices, costs and incentives. Enter Economic Episodes in American History. Its goal is to engage students in formulating economic analyses of key events from America’s past – analysis yielding insights they are not likely to discover in traditional textbooks.
I disagree with the arguments suggested in the preface about U.S. textbooks for reasons I won’t get into. In Schug’s book, the South’s choice to secede and fight a war is a cost benefit analysis in which the South did not practice sound economic principles. Never mind the issue of race based chattel slavery in an agrarian society, how it formed, and what the cultural baggage is of a slave society. Personally I thought of the whole thing in one of two ways: another economist playing historian like DiLorenzo; or more Common Core manure coming down the shoot. The truth is, I would never base a class off of Schug’s book, and I’ve yet to use it as supplemental material. But I digress, I am maintaining a positive outlook towards this workshop.
For starters, the Fed. is promoting the word “online.” I am an absolute nut for flipping the classroom and breaking down technological barriers. I love research databases and I thoroughly enjoy reaching my students in that manner. With that being said, I am hoping the Fed. introduces me to something new; something I can take back to the classroom. Since there is going to be a heavy use of technology at this workshop, the Fed. asked attendees to bring laptops and headphones. I thought to myself, ‘man, I’ll have my laptop out in front of me the whole day. What a great time to blog a little about the experience.’ So next Wednesday, expect a live blog on Dynamic Teaching Tools from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Here’s to hoping for a productive hump day!