from Jack Reardon
A spirited debate on the reformation of economics education is welcomed and necessary. I am thrilled to participate in it. The key word is education: we need to educate our students and the public, rather than proselytize, which unfortunately is too often the modus operandi of neoclassical economics. Proselytization is little different from bullying and no better example of this was written by Edward Fullbrook as a chapter in my book (Handbook of Pluralist Economics Education) and has circulated on the internet. Education is our most important endeavor as human beings: t is absolutely necessary for ourselves, our planet and the future generation.
While I think we are agree on the need to educate rather than proselytize, a much more difficult question is what is education and what does it mean to educate? And a related question is what should we be teaching our students. To answer the first question, I believe the key to education is to foster doubt about existing institutions- why are they structured as is? Who benefits? Where is the locus of power? Can the existing situation be improved for all rather than the select few? Another key in education is to foster humility and respect for other views. This doesn’t mean we must agree with everyone; on the contrary, disagreement (and doubt) is necessary for the advancement of knowledge.
The goal of reforming economics education is too important to exclude either specific beliefs or a specific modus operandi. We should welcome all suggestions, and all blueprints for change, from the barely nudging to the radical reformation. A pluralist tent for reforming economics education should be broad enough to harbor all views. To exclude any one view is to mirror the myopic and self-defeating practice of neoclassical economics.
We have much to learn from each other and I don’t want to limit my own learning by restricting who I can dialogue with. I view the above distinction as artificial and counter-productive. Instead I view the comments as different degrees of the same objective: the reformation of economics education.
February 19, 2013