Both Greg Mankiw and Tyler Cowen recommend an article by the Freakonomics team of Levitt and Dubner in the New York Times on the research of Anders Ericsson into the development of skills by experts.

Deliberate practice entails more than simply repeating a task — playing a C-minor scale 100 times, for instance, or hitting tennis serves until your shoulder pops out of its socket. Rather, it involves setting specific goals, obtaining immediate feedback and concentrating as much on technique as on outcome.

…Most people naturally don’t like to do things they aren’t “good” at. So they often give up, telling themselves they simply don’t possess the talent for math or skiing or the violin. But what they really lack is the desire to be good and to undertake the deliberate practice that would make them better.

For Discussion. How would you use this information to improve the teaching of economics?

The challenge is that economics uses other skills, including logical reasoning. You can train someone to be an idiot-savant, i.e. someone who can manipulate mathematical expressions of economic thinking, more easily than you can train somebody to take a real-world problem and apply economics to it.