Did I miss a memo? Let’s keep the ‘F-word’.

FAIL (intransitive verb); to fall short, to be unsuccessful Most of the people who know me have long since realised I don't do transitional material. I'm also not great at light conversation. I've been told of my tendency to go of on a (ranting) tangent on whatever subject has prodded me with a stick. So, I hope you're ready for a little random venting of spleen here, for there is a recent societal undercurrent that is increasingly sticking in my craw, ...

In the long run, we’re all spread

By Monday, February 15, 2016 No tags 2

President Harry Truman famously exclaimed, after dealing with a number of economists and economic predictions, that he needed a one-handed economist. Yes, we do have a tendency to opine back and forth, often cushioning our vagaries with “…on the one hand…on the other hand…” which so irritated the former US president. One of Keynes’ friends was to have said very much the same: “Ask four economists for a prediction and you shall get four different answers – five if Maynard ...

Ever more kinked…

I have just revised oligopolies in theory of the firm (ToF) for HL students in IB2. I introduced the kinked demand curve a bit differently this time: I outlined the premises carefully, drew the market equilibrium point in a diagram and then asked the students to carefully obey the PED conditions of '...if I lower my price and the other firms follow...' in drawing the demand curve. This gave an entirely different outcome than most textbooks! I also played a game ...

Syllabus order

I have written here about one of the questions facing IB schools and teachers, namely in which order one might best go through the syllabus. Naturally this is a question for all subjects yet the discussion here is confined to economics. Briefly recapitulating, I have put forward that there are costs and benefits in following a strict syllabus order. The benefits are ease of following the progression for students and that when students move (as frequently happens in IB schools) it's ...

‘That word…I don’t think it means what you think…’

It has been told to me that I have a bull-headed propensity towards taking things literally - something enmeshed in my father's favourite childhood story. I was about five and we were living in Panama City. My father was working for the ILO and living the expat life. We often had people over for dinner - many of the guests were of UN/diplomatic types - and my father, of old-fashioned ilk, made a point of having his children neatly dressed ...

IA – ‘Internal Affairs’?

By Tuesday, May 19, 2015 No tags 0

If there ever was a time the economics colleagues need to raise a questioning eyebrow, now might be the time. A colleague returned recently from an IB workshop having been told that Internal Assessment (IA) portfolios were to be graded differently for HL - e.g. that HL students were expected to utilise concepts from HL Extensions in the syllabus. This was apparently quite explicitly stated during the workshop and created quite a stir amongst the colleagues attending. No wonder. The economics ...

Under pressure – the jugular dance

By Thursday, April 23, 2015 No tags 0

Increasing old age and an inherent disposition towards cynicism caused me at one point the other week to fell the following pithy comment to one of the heads here at school: "Final grades are like sausage. You may or may not like the final product but, whatever the case, you probably don't want to see the underlying process." Yes, that went down a treat as you can imagine. I've just had a visit from family from what is the closest thing ...

Diminishing returns – maybe…

By Monday, April 13, 2015 No tags 0

Here's something you don't hear a teacher say often: "Some of my students need to start studying less and enjoying life more!" Yes, I actually said that, eyes focused vacuously in middle-distance, in handing back the mock exams. It's like hearing "No, duct tape won't fix that!" in Missouri or "Pass me the pate" in the Stallone household. I meant it. I still do to a certain extent but I've toned down the correlation aspect as you shall see below. Anyhow, ...

IA Samples and Admin

By Wednesday, February 25, 2015 No tags 0

Yes, it's that time of year again. Like a dog with a frisbee, a really bad virus or a bad cheque (check), it's back. Time to get the Internal Assessment (IA) portfolios together, submit final grades and then compile the sample for external moderation. Many teachers dread the process, seeing the external moderation not so much as a tweaking of set grades but rather a 'grade on the teachers' themselves. Putting in grades and then being asked to submit samples for ...

DRQ puzzle

By Friday, February 13, 2015 No tags 0

One of the reoccurring discussions in the economics department is why so many students with solid abilities in economics receive lower-than-expected marks in data response questions (DRQs - Paper 2 in the most recent syllabus). The data is reasonably unequivocal for us; DRQ marks are on average one IB grade boundary lower than for essay questions (EQs, paper1) over a three year period. What then is the question? Simple: since both DRQs and EQs follow a reasonably straightforward "define - explain ...