Class didn’t work out like I planned today. It wasn’t a disaster; it just could have been better on a couple of fronts. I was introducing the students to comparative economic systems, in other words, alternative ways for a society to deal with the economic problem. The material, unfortunately, isn’t in the text so the students weren’t prepared to discuss it. Fair enough, I planned on briefly lecturing on the material, supporting the lecture with a slide presentation illustrating elements of traditional, command, and market economies.
1. First, the more worrisome problem. Because the students lacked background as part of the introduction I drew connections with material we had studied earlier this semester. The economic problem involves decisions about resource allocation and distribution of goods and services. Resource allocation is a buzz word (or phrase) that students hear a lot, but don’t really understand–I’m not sure the phrase is defined per se in the texts. So, as part of my definition, I drew on a concept from Topic 1, something which I did not cover in class since it’s explained very clearly in the text. Fortunately, the class correctly identified it in the first metacognitive activity as a major concept. The concept was the production possibilities frontier. I was dismayed to find that students couldn’t really explain the concept. They understood it only in a very low level sense, recognition rather than explanation. This is a concept that classes in earlier years would have known cold–at least in part because I lectured on it. What am I to make of this?
2. The second concern–this one I know how to fix, at least. As I mentioned above, I put together a slide show using images I obtained from colleagues in Anthropology and History, as well as ones I found myself. I didn’t have enough time to put into the preparation of this class; the result was that I’m not happy with the delivery that occurred. I had images and I had lecture comments. What I didn’t do very well was integrate the two. What I should have done was figure out how to use particular images to illustrate particular points I was making. Oh well, I’ll try to do better next time.