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January 30, 2008


Raul Isaac

So you´re a bad teacher he? Don´t worry. Not everyone is Gregory Mankiw. many great economist weren´t quite appreciated by his students either. Take for example Von Mises or Hayek. Their students hated them.

So was the case for John F Nash. So do not worry. Try to improve your teaching. But do not pay a big opportunity cost on it. Remember it could prevent you from research.


Raul Isaac: "Try to improve your teaching. But do not pay a big opportunity cost on it. Remember it could prevent you from research."

Heaven forbid that a professor should worry much about teaching.

OTOH kudos to Dani for taking his student's constructive criticisms to heart (on his blog no less) and vowing to do better.

Per Kurowski

How can we help to monitor the advances?

Barkley Rosser

"Attitude adjustment"? Well, heck, I suggest along those lines that a nice and reasonably full glass of a well-aged, single malt, Scotch whisky will not hurt, :-).


Public policy kids aren't complainers??!??? I guess things are different at Duke.

Matt Nolan

"And we need more assignments along the way to make sure we are learning the material"

That is a huge point, I always preferred graduate courses with weekly assignments - it forces students to dig into the material and helps them realize what they don't yet understand.

Of course you realize that as soon as you introduce weekly assignments students will start complaining about it ;-)


Don't let a small minority get you down! Over my years of schooling, I was often frustrated by teachers that made an entire class wait as a they addressed stupid questions (questions answered in the assigned reading) or comments intended to demonstrate how clever they are (usually failing).

Ken Houghton

Matt Nolan's point goes to the heart of the matter.

Do the MPAID students ask "dumb" questions in other classes? Ask your peers. (Of course, I've never been afraid to ask dumb questions. Which may be why I could never get into MPAID.)


If only we could all get such feedback (and be so honest about addressing it).

Also, I usually prefer quizzes to homework, but perhaps that's just because I am a lazy student.


Come on! The guy who beleives "The best classroom teacher I ever had is Avinash Dixit (whom I was lucky to have as dissertation adviser as well). One of his remarkable traits as a teacher was that he would never treat silly or obvious questions as such. No matter how stupid a question seemed, he would stop, raise his hand to his chin, narrow his eyes, and think a long time about it, while the rest of us in the classroom would roll our eyes at the stupidity of the questioner. Then he would say: 'Ah, I see what you have in mind...' and he would roll out an answer to a deep and interesting question the student had no idea he had asked." is blamed of "Most significantly, it appears, many students found me somewhat intolerant of diverse views and disrespectful. We are afraid to ask 'dumb, questions, wrote one person."? Somthing must have gone wrong!! hmmm :)

Former Student

Dani, you really have to think harder into redesigning your course. It will probably serve you better to listen to your students and be more available to them to find out the deficiencies of your teaching methods. You might be really smart but if you can't communicate your ideas and really inspire your students, your class is just another lecture.


Hi Dani,

I think this shows you've got a healthy attitude to constructive criticism and an open attitutde so I wouldn't worry too much, I'm sure you must be improving all the time, which is more than can be said for a lot of us.

Per Kurowski

Thinking about it, each professor should run his dumb questions blog just the way some professors run their dumb comments blogs, as long as he can manage to keep those blogs separate. Unfortunately this could also lead the professor to have less time for us, the classroom peeping toms.


dani -- your self-reflexivity for your teaching impresses me.

for what it's worth, it always seems to be the case you can't please everyone, my hypothesis is Deluezian -- difference is what we all have in common.

ITF345 student

Professor Rodrik,

The ITF345 you taught last semester was the best trade economics course in the world. It deserves a song of praise rather than the blues.

Thorstein Veblen

Actually, I think you should do nothing.

The problem is that you're an economist teaching non-economists (i.e., you're in the wrong business). Economists rationally expect their classes to be trash, while non-economists always have these unrealistic expectations about how good a job an economist can do teaching. Whatever you do, the result is set in stone. (Unless you teach phd econ students, who won't complain...)


Please do not succumb to students who wish to impose stupid questions on the class. I also ask that you not succumb to those who want their illogical opinions treated as equal to reasoned opinions. If you succumb, you will permit pseudo-intellectuals, to be equal to real intellectuals.

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