Come Away With Me
A minute ago, I read Steven Landsburg’s beautiful encomium to Deirdre McCloskey. An excerpt:
We were dazzled, all of us, all of us who had come here hoping to escape the ordinary, to be touched by greatness, to enter into the Life of the Mind. The math students, the history students, the political science students–all of us were dazzled. But there was a special quality to the dazzlement of the economics students, who were taking a course in Price Theory from a certain Professor McCloskey, who kept them in a perpetual state of shock and awe.
In his article, Steven gives a breathless (and I mean that in a good way) description of the excitement of being in McCloskey’s class at the University of Chicago in the 1970s.
Rising food prices or rising oil prices can’t explain inflation, at least not by the mechanisms most people imagine. A frost in Florida won’t cause a shortage of oranges. When there’s an increase in the price of steel, car prices will rise by less if the auto industry is monopolized than if the auto industry is competitive–though several members of the president’s Council of Economic Advisors had believed otherwise.
Steven’s whole piece reminded me of why I’m looking forward, at age 64, to starting my new class next week. I never tire of teaching some of the things mentioned above, although Steven’s piece reminds me that one result of my office fire in 2007, with the burning of my computer, is that I left the last question–about steel–out of my subsequent problem sets. Problem corrected.
One of the things I tell my students, whose median age is about 31 and who (at least many of them) have seen more of the world than I have, is “you’ll learn things you never knew you never knew.”
Then between the first and second hours of class, to bring them back into the room, I play this song by Norah Jones. And no, I’m not saying that I will kiss my students. (I do hug.) It’s just my way of communicating that we’re going to go on a wonderful adventure together.