8.3 Using a reader
An alternative is to adopt a reader. Snowdon, Vane and Wynarczyk (1998) is one such readymade reader. Heilbroner's Teachings from the Worldly Philosophers (1997) is another. However, another option is to construct a reader from key texts. Although the readings in Table 4a suggest that Stretton is being used extensively, the author did not require students to buy the book. Certain key parts of the book were placed in a reader and many copies were placed in the library for reference. Other key readings, such as short handouts and newspaper articles, were placed in the reader. This has the disadvantage of being a little labour intensive but has the distinct advantage, assuming that all copyright issues have been resolved of providing the students with key material in a manageable format. A danger is that the students will regard this as an exhaustive list of readings, but nonetheless it might constitute more reading than they would otherwise have done. Using readers is one strategy advocated by Earl (2000) and adopted by Bucknell University. One of their readers is available as Schneider et al. (2005).
In the author's parallel perspectives module, there were two recommended texts: Real World Micro (Agia, et al., 2002), which encompassed a heterodox slant on real-world issues connected to consumers (such as credit card companies' marketing schemes), firms (such as price gouging), markets (living wage movements), government policy (such as welfare reform), plus environmental and globalisation articles; and Heilbroner's Worldly Philosophers. As Earl discusses below, it may be useful to explain how economists came to their own views; but in any case, Heilbroner's book adds some colour to the thoughts of famous economists in terms of their personal backgrounds and their historical context. Thus, engagement is achieved, as is the heterodox attention to history of thought. As shown in Table 4a, the readings from Heilbroner are interspersed into the programme as appropriate to invigorate certain topics. An alternative is to teach a block of history of thought at the beginning of the course (Barone, 1991).