Thursday, December 17, 2009

Father Mankiw

I read today how Professor Mankiw will not share his lecture notes with because "he didn’t want to make it easier for students to cut class. 'Listening to lectures and taking your own notes is part of the educational process.'"

That reminds me of my own enrollment in his Ec2010c course in Autumn 1989: he tried to expel me! Ec2010c is a graduate course, and I was the only undergraduate there. Early on I learned about structure of the course, grading, etc., and determined that I did not need to complete all of the problem sets, should not participate in any of the "study groups," and might even skip a lecture or two (not many -- attending was quite productive). I would hone in on the material in December and early January, in preparation for the mid-January exam (and perhaps along the way object to some of the dubious conclusions of New Keynesian economics).

Professor Mankiw knew nothing about me, but decided that my approach (whispered to him by then TA Susanto Basu) was harmful to me and perhaps even the other students, so that for the common good I should be expelled from the course.

His reaction always puzzled me, because he's a friendly person and usually appears to be libertarian. But now I see that he does take a paternalistic role toward the students.

By the way, I was not expelled from the course because the other TA (Xavier Sala-i-Martin) and the other Prof (Barro) requested that I be allowed to remain. Among about 50 grad students, I got the second highest grade on the final (and only) exam in the course. Since 1989, it has been more common for a couple of eager undergrads each year to enroll in 2010c.

[please also see Professor Mankiw's reaction]

1 comment:

Sheng said...

Well, Prof. Mulligan's rebellion from Harvard to Chicago is well known. And I guess there might have been a couple of undergrads enrolled in the same course before you did, but they didn't get the second highest grade, so Prof. Mankiw's attitude had been shaped by that. Just my hypothesis.