Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Economic Naturalist

I believe the phrase "economic naturalist" can be attributed to Robert Frank, author of The Economic Naturalist. He has a teaching philosophy that kids can learn econ better if they are able to apply it to situations in every day life. Some studies have shown that years ago, students actually knew LESS about economics a year after taking an econ class than students who had never had an econ class.

Economic naturalism is a methodology of looking at the world, asking questions, and using economic principles to answer them. A quick Google search for "economic naturalist" will pull up plenty of results. I have found myself not asking the questions, but answering ones I hear with economic reasoning. I sound like a nerd (even more than you're used to). For instance, see my blog entry titled "Arrow Securities." It's always marginal this and utility that. I think it's cool that I'm getting to the point where I can apply the stuff I learn in class to real-world problems.

I had my students over the summer write a 1-2 page naturalist essay. I gave them a few questions they could write on and I had a few students invent some rather interesting questions. I think my favorite was "why do pimps wear such extravagant clothing?"

If you ever have an interesting economic naturalist question and want to get my take on it, just ask.
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