Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Aphorisms for the Current Situation

Irwin Kellner, one of the economists and columnists on Marketwatch, revived a column from last year. It's one I actually remember reading, and it uses some old saws to explain why there's plenty of blame to go around when it comes to analyzing the current financial situation.

How do you use it in class? I'd do what Dr. Kellner did. List the aphorisms. But instead of providing the analysis, ask the students how each one might apply to the current situation. It will provide some interesting opportunities:

First: have they even heard some of these? I am tempted to place folk wisdom and aphorisms under the category of institutions - the rules that help shape our decision-making. If the students are not familiar with the sayings, the idea behind the saying may not be playing any significant part in their decision-making.

Second: (and more important) can they make they see the connection? Can they apply the folk wisdom to the current issue?

Third: Are there any consistent gaps in their view/analysis? Are any of the players seen as not culpable or participating in the formation of the mess? That provides you with a teachable moment.

Please share how your students do with Dr. Kellner's list.

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