The eco-teaching tool kit: a basket of approaches

Emmadi Naveen Kumar

Is economics a dry subject?
I was always surprised when people asked me this question: “How come you have chosen such a dry subject (economics) for your higher studies?” Even today I don’t understand what exactly the word ‘dry’ means in their question. Is economics really a dry subject? Or is it the method of teaching economics that makes people think it is so? Are there methods of teaching that can make economics an interesting subject?

coins The lecture is the primary teaching method used by teachers at both the secondary and university levels. Though the majority of economists still use this method to teach economics, there are numerous problems with excessive lecturing, which have been known for quite some time.

To cite one example, Johnstone and Percival (1976) found that students start losing attention 10 to 18 minutes into a lecture with lapses becoming worse as time passes. They, therefore, recommend active learning methods as a supplement to the lecture.

Most learners like to learn through humorous anecdotes combined with real-life applications pictures, illustrations and other teaching methods (discussion, programmed learning, reading/independent study, projects, and other – audio, TV, computer-assisted learning) using information acquisition as the standard of effectiveness.

If standards of effectiveness are used, then the effectiveness of lectures declines. For example, lectures are ineffective compared to class discussions in promoting independent thought because students are not actively engaged. For teachers of economics who hope to attract students to the subject, this is an important point to consider.

The method of instruction occupies a paramount position in any teaching/learning situation. It serves as a communication link between the teacher, the students, and the subject matter. Teaching methods can be of different types and will depend on the topic. Let’s consider a few here.

The author is a teacher of economics and political science at Silver Oaks International school, Hyderabad. He can be reached at

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