And then they all went home and did their homework

This blog is about economics, and I intend to keep it that way, but I wanted to express my joy for a minute at my students getting involved. Last night, Rick Santorum, former PA Senator and GOP candidate for the presidential nomination, chose to spend the evening in my little town of Gettysburg. He set up shop in the historic Gettysburg Hotel on the square (which is only kind of historic because the hotel, built in 1767, was totally rebuilt a few decades after the war and actually burned down in 1983).

I was promised bra burning and protestors, and though I had no desire to stand in line for hours (6:45 for a proposed 8pm start would have gotten you in for the actually 9:30 speech), I was curious to see who and what turned up. Sadly, there was no bra-burning, but there were several posters with bras attached.

Otherwise, the group was surprisingly diverse. I watched several Gettysburg College students file in, mingled with older locals and families from around the area. I’m told about 750 people actually made it into the ballroom. Outside, people from Occupy Harrisburg turned out. Ron Paul supporters (this is Gettysburg people, he did go to school here) were in full chant mode. The group of older women with burning bras and signs declaring “we fought this war 50 years ago” and “Women Beware” were among my favorites.

Most heartwarming, though, was the throng of students. On the protesting side, the Gettysburg Allies group came with rainbow flags and purple shirts and a circular piece of Styrofoam with the word Bayer on it. A group of female students changed “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries” and others joined in the OWS chanting. Inside, several students got in and told me today about how exciting it was. Regardless of what they thought of him, it was exciting for them to be there with the people and the cameras and the rush.

I was told, before I came here, that Gettysburg College students were pretty apathetic. It was great to see them excited and involved and participating. And seeing that their participation was part of something larger. It’s so important. Even I was really excited. I tweeted about it constantly, and it’s not like it was a big, significant event with people getting arrested or police brutality. It was mostly a bunch of students and locals, showing that they care, one way or the other.

And then they all went home and did their homework.



TCB and student blogging

Though it wasn’t exactly a New Year’s resolution in the traditional sense, I promised myself that when my dissertation was all done, I would stick to a blogging schedule. My dissertation is done in the sense that I’ve graduated, but as all academics know, very little ever actually gets done. So, here it is, almost my bedtime on Monday night, the day I said I would blog, and I haven’t blogged.

I did get a lot done today. I had all of these little errands I’d been putting off and I’m happy to say that many of them are done. TCB, as my old housemate says.

There are a couple of papers I want to read and comment on, but I also really wanted to take today’s post to continue talking about student blogging. I’ve received a lot of support for the idea, from students and other academics, some who are doing something similar in their classes, some who wish they were, some who are just thrilled to watch it unfold.

Despite being the one who is doing it, I’m rather thrilled to watch it unfold. A couple of students have taken initiative and are posting other things–news articles or just general thoughts about school. I know it can be intimidating to think about strangers reading your writing, but I like where it is going. The posts from last week were thoughtful and clearly intended for an audience, which is just fantastic. I haven’t read them all yet, but have great plans for that tomorrow. I’m excited to hear what they have to say, what they’re thinking and learning and how what we do in class affects the way they see their worlds.

In case anyone was wondering, I don’t recommend taking the 8pm train from New York to Harrisburg if you have to teach at 9am in Gettysburg the next morning and are not sure what you’re going to do in class that day.


Crowd-sourcing classroom blogging

So, I’ve made some work for myself this semester, I think. In light of the conversation a few weeks ago regarding blogging by academics, and a recent spate of blog posts on LSEImpact on social media, I decided that my students should be blogging.

In reality, I think they should be writing. A lot. And I think they should be reading each other’s writing. It’s amazing to me how many students go through college having had no one read their papers or other written work except their professors. Don’t get me wrong, I have faith in the ability of most professors to present an informed opinion on a work, but those students are missing significant opportunities to improve their skills of crafting an argument if they do not practice and put themselves out there. I can give an opinion on how to write something, but it’s merely one opinion.

It’s a good one, of course, but just one.

So, I have 25 students in two methods classes. They are going to blog about their research projects–still TBD for most, though a few have come to me with interesting ideas. They are going to blog about their reading assignments–mostly from Poor Economics or Freakonomics. Hopefully, they also blog about questions that come up in their textbooks. Hopefully, they blog about interesting things they find in the news. Hopefully, they start reading other blogs and commenting on them as well.

The course blog is here. It has three lists of links. One for each section of my class and one for several economics blogs. Some I read, some were just suggested to me. If your blog is not on there, and you think it should be, let me know. I’m happy to add it. I think the more examples they have, the better.

In addition, I’m totally open to ideas of how to make this work. Assignments that are particularly well-suited to blogging (with an economics or econometrics or research component preferred) are totally welcome. If it worked or if it didn’t, it it was an unmitigated disaster or a resounding success, I’d love to hear about it.

%d bloggers like this: