A couple of stories have invaded my consciousness recently about the pros and cons of studying economics.
Times Higher Education featured an article by Matthew Reisz that purported to be about the joys of Economics and started off with the line that …
today the “dismal science” of economics is sexy
… but the article was more an ode to the joys of complexity, the mathematical intricacies of the subject and its relation to the real world – where economists can and do have important things to say about the world around us, or as Reisz puts it
How far has the discipline become so self-enclosed and drenched in mathematical technicalities that business people and policymakers find it hard to extract the practical lessons – and the wider public, eager to learn more, doesn’t get a look-in?
So is economics sexy, but difficult?
Well another news nugget, this time from the BBC may confirm this, as the latest Good Teacher Training Guide for 2008 says that just three economics teachers were trained in England last year, or as the report states on page 16.
… the general picture is that difficulty of filling the teacher training places in a subject is reflected in the poorer entry qualifications of and a higher rate of drop-out of those admitted. One incidental point to emerge from Chart 12 is the seeming near death of teacher training in economics.
An economics degree will open many doors, perhaps too many, so that the prospect of teaching schoolchildren about the subject, is just not appealing or financially rewarding enough in comparison to some of the other potential careers on offer.
Find out more about the joys of studying economics from the Why Study Economics website or the joys of teaching economics from the Economics, Business and Enterprise Association.
Intute: Social Sciences features more resources on the topics of Economics and Education.
Messing around with the Flip
… for a second week
Take a quick peek at this photo and ask yourself – what do these two have in common?
Well, they are both vloggers on YouTube! Gordon Brown has recently been asking people to contribute to the Ask the PM challenge – billed as a people based version of Prime Ministers Questions, while Queen Rania of Jordan has been tackling the issue of Arab stereotypes.
How do they stack up against each other?
Both have about 5-6000 regular subscribers, but each video from Queen Rania has at least 30,000 views (apart from the one released today) while the average video on the Downing Street channel seems to attract about 5000 views – why the big difference?
One factor may be the way they try to engage the community – the Ask the PM challenge had a set of terms and conditions that was too long for the YouTube description box – user submissions were vetted, selected ones could then be voted on and several weeks later Gordon Brown recorded some responses – while some of the questions were certainly different from ones asked by the mainstream media – were the answers?
Queen Rania allowed video responses and text comments directly after her video – with over 80 video responses and over 5000 text comments – some of these said some pretty unpleasant things – equating Arabs with terrorists and presenting a very stereotypical view of the role of women in the Arab world – but Queen Rania tackled them head on and encouraged others to make videos to do the same.
To me at least, it seems as though Queen Rania is engaging with the YouTube community on their terms and is reaping the rewards in terms of generating a real dialogue about an important issue. The Downing Street channel seems to be trying to use a new media platform like YouTube, to broadcast in a very old fashioned top down manner, with a veneer of social interaction.
Intute: Social Sciences features more resources on politics, the Arab World, women in politics and YouTube.
Photo available from the World Economic Forum on Flickr under Creative Commons license.
Earlier in the week I gave a presentation on YouTube for fun and education, telling the tale about dipping my toes into the world of YouTube in the last few months. The slides should be below and I’m hoping to produce an audio version too, once I cut down the narrative from 70 minutes to about 10 minutes or YouTube-size.
The screenshots in the presentation should be hyperlinked to the appropriate videos or you can view them all as a YouTube playlist – be warned there is some occasional fruity language and adult themes in some of the videos.
The key points that have come out my YouTube experience are:
Intute: Social Sciences features selected educational resources from YouTube.
With the National Health Service (NHS) turning 60 this week, here’s a brief round-up of resources related to this anniversary.
The NHS website includes a special section to mark the anniversary with an excellent range of resources.
These include an interactive image gallery, timeline and audio / video on the class of 1948.
Other resources include:
Intute: Social Sciences features more resources on the NHS, health policy, Health Services and the Public Adminstration of Health.
Intute: Health and Life Sciences features more resources on this topic and the Intute: Virtual Training Suite includes online tutorials pointing to the best of the Web on a range of health related issues.