THE TEACHING ECONOMIST - William A. McEachern                 

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Issue 2, Spring 1991

William A. McEachern, Editor

Introduction

Interest in quality teaching seems to be growing. Donald Kennedy, president of Stanford University, recently criticized the dominance of research over teaching at Stanford and pledged to uplift the status of teaching. Columbia University is now establishing 10 endowed chairs for outstanding teachers and may soon add more. At the University of Colorado, the President's Teaching Scholars program identifies those with talent and experience to serve as mentors for younger instructors. And, in a recent report that has received national attention, Ernest Boyer, president of the Carnegie Foundation, calls for broadening the definition of scholarship to include the discovery of new knowledge, the integration of knowledge, the application of knowledge, and teaching. In Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate (Princeton University Press), he suggests that this expanded view of scholarship will lead to an improved faculty-reward system and, hence, to better teaching.

Boyer's views are intriguing, but I'm not sure the issue can be addressed by semantics. I argued in the first edition of The Teaching Economist that even if quality teaching is not rewarded by our institutions, we should want to be better teachers because teaching interested students is more fun and more personally rewarding. Incidentally, the response to that first newsletter has been most gratifying; many of you requested subscriptions. I have also begun receiving some of your teaching ideas; read about them in The Grapevine.

To summarize the message from the first newsletter, rely on common experience to have something good to say, then say it well. All this seems obvious, but, as I said, success is a study of the obvious. This newsletter takes a closer look at what we do most of the time: lecture. Much of what I am about to say you may already know. But think of yourself as a prospector of ideas. All you need come away with is one or two good ones.

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