Idle afternoon ideas for the Economics teacher on holiday

Most teachers never struggle to find things to do during the holidays. But if your are stuck for ideas, stuck in a plane or just stuck inside, here are some things I have read, watched and listened to over the last few months.

Watch: The Inside Job

This is a nice documentary movie about the Global Financial Crisis and meltdown that occurred during late 2008. Narrated by Matt Damon it is perhaps the most comprehensive overview of the issues and contained rafts of excellent interviews. It was pretty balanced and even a little humorous at times. If you are having a quite day you could add on the film Wall Street: – Money Never Sleeps as a nice prologue.

Listen: More or less: Tim Harford “The Undercover Economist”

Podcast Subscription – BBC Radio 4 (22 episodes)

Tim Harford is a excellent journalist who presents a weekly 30min show about Economics and Statistics on BBC Radio 4. The format is very easy to follow, intuitive and very educational. Each week the show goes into some depth about a recent economic issues and tries to dispel the statistical myths sometimes portrayed by the media or politicians. The format is canny and other the presenters are always humourous. Occasionally it can get a bit intellectually challenging, but the examples are excellent. Many of the topics covered would be perfect resources to use in the classroom. Some of the good podcast episodes are linked below.

  • How useful is GDP? 22 Apr 2011 – link
  • Youth Unemployment: 08 Apr 2011 – link
  • Big numbers and VAT taxes 07 Jan 11 – link

I would envisage using the podcasts as a homework activity and perhaps asking students to put the ideas into words and using the skill of summarising. This is also a good example of how students could podcast themselves from within the classroom and make a class radio station which analysed economic events. This could provide a nice foundation for thier internal assessment work.

Read: Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich

This is perhaps the easiest read I have had in a while and is a insightful look into the life of the wealthy in the US. It is written by a senior editor from the Wall Street Journal – Robert Frank, so therefore covers the economic impacts of the wealth boom by explaining income disparities and clever use of statistics.

The full review is below

Editorial ReviewLibrary Journal vol. 132 iss. 11 p. 78 (c) 06/15/2007Wall Street Journal senior special writer Frank got the idea for this book when he stumbled across the statistic that the number of U.S. millionaire households has doubled since 1995. His research took a scenic turn when he made it his full-time focus to study the lifestyles of the rich and richer. These well-heeled folks make their homes in Richistan, a metaphorical land of nine million souls, inhabited by the nouveaux riches (a term Frank implies without using) who have made—not inherited—their fortunes. Their politics and lifestyles vary by their socioeconomic stratum within Richistan. Upper Richistan is where things begin to get interesting: on these lavish estates, each household is worth more than $100 million and spends an average of $182,000 on wristwatches each year. And we haven’t even visited the hamlet of Billionaireville yet. Overall, the author argues, the concentrated wealth of Richistan is great for the economy—and for the veritable army of workers hired to manage the complicated lives of some very conspicuous consumers. Cruising around in private jets and yachts, Richistanis size up one another’s assets and invite one another to their charity balls. Frank’s private tour of the very real inhabitants of the comical, magical land of Richistan will be popular in public library business collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/06.]—Carol J. Elsen, Univ. of Wisconsin, Whitewater

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