This book grew out of a book published in 2011 entitled Workbook for the New I.B. Economics that is now in its second edition after having sold almost 7000 copies worldwide. The feedback from teachers using the book was put to good use when writing Economics for Canadians.
More formally, though, the book was reviewed twice, once by Curriculum Services Canada with the aim of getting the book placed on the Ontario Ministry of Education’s Trillium List, and once by Emond MontgomeryPublications (EMP) as part of ongoing discussions aimed at bringing the book to a wider community college audience.
While the Curriculum Services Canada evaluation is the property of the Ontario Ministry of Education and is confidential (despite my having had to pay for it – but that is another story), I am permitted to share the letter that accompanied the evaluation here:
While the book was judged to be “of excellent quality, overall” it was nonetheless not approved for reasons of bias and sensitivity. The entire list of allegedly biased and insensitive material is reproduced below in the section of this page entitled “Errors and Corrections.” You may judge for yourself whether the book would be suitable for use with your students or, having already chosen to use the book, you may teach the course in such a way as to compensate for the material judged to be biased and insensitive. I believe once you have seen the list you will decide that the objections raised are, for the most part, specious and based on a very superficial reading of the material.
The review commissioned by Emond Montgomery was quite thorough and many of the suggestions made by the reviewer will lead to improvements to the second edition of the book. The following 2 comments from the review I feel provide a succinct summary:
The book would be excellent for individual study. It is well organized and well written. The author’s enthusiasm for the subject comes through the text.
I think this book might be very much liked by a teacher who has little to no experience in teaching the course as it seems to lay out a day-by-day plan of teaching material. Similarly, it might be well liked by a teacher who does not have background or qualifications in economics.
This last comment pleases me as in many schools economics is taught by a teacher in the social studies department who may not have a strong background in the subject. Hopefully the book can make their (and their students’) classes go more smoothly.
Lastly, I have had very good feedback from teachers who have seen (and who have subsequently gone on to order) the book, most notably from Arturo de Marchi at Lester B. Pearson Collegiate Institute in Scarborough who on June 17th, 2013 wrote:
I was looking over your publication. I am interested. I was wondering how much a copy would cost. I might be purchasing a set if I can afford it. A colleague of mine, Bill Velos, lent me a copy to review. I was impressed. Very straight forward for the students. Been teaching Eco for 15 years and the best one I have seen.
Of course, the best way to get a sense of the book is to have a look at a copy yourself. After having distributed almost 200 inspection copies to teachers at last year’s OBEA, OHASSTA and BCSSTA conferences, there is probably an inspection copy of the book with someone in your school board. If you would like to know where to have a look at a copy, write to me and if there are no books available in your board I would be happy to send you an inspection copy for $41 ($25 plus $16 postage).
Errors and Corrections
There are no serious errors in the book beyond a few typos, most of which should have been corrected in the revised edition printed in 2021. However, I feel obliged to share with the people who already have the book the instances of bias and unacceptable examples and contexts flagged by the reviewers from Curriculum Services Canada which caused them not to approve the book for inclusion on the Trillium List of government-approved textbooks.
Bias – in each case evidence should be presented to students to allow them to come to independent judgments. Suggestions for such evidence follow each instance in brackets.
Page 14 – the statement “In the present, North Korea operates under a command economy with disastrous results.”
(The Slate article referenced in the teachers’ guide entitled “Why is North Korea always short on food?” offers evidence to support the statement.)
Page 15 – the statement “The other great thing about a market economy is that it does not require anyone to run it.”
(the documentary series “The Commanding Heights”, episode 2, section starting at 8:08, reports how Margaret Thatcher told Mikhail Gorbachev: “Mikhail, you see how your economy is organized — centralized, entirely led by the Kremlin. Look at me in Britain and the West. We have market economy, and it is running itself. I don’t have to tell different industries what to do. I don’t deal with it at all. My job compared with your job is much easier. And you would be able to enjoy your job as head of the Soviet Union much more if you had a market economy.” http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/commandingheights/shared/minitextlo/tr_show02.html)
Page 128 – the statement “By and large, minimum wages are earned by young people (such as teenagers and high school students) just entering the labour market.”
(The US Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of minimum wage workers shows this to be the case: http://bls.gov/cps/minwage2011.htm)
Page 132 – the statement “Many professional associations are little more than unions in fancy dress.”
(A website looking at organized labour includes many professional organizations: http://www.jobquality.ca/indicators/union/uni4.shtml)
Page 145 – the statement “If many people in a country are jobless, it can lead to social instability.”
(China’s concern with full employment as a means to secure social order is looked at here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/25/china-globaleconomy)
Page 147 – The question “Why do you think German-speaking economists like von Mises and von Hayek were more pessimistic than English-speaking economists when considering the prospect of governments assuming a more important role in guiding the economy?”
(The documentary series “The Commanding Heights”, episode 1, section starting at 34:10 contains this summary of von Hayek’s book “The Road to Serfdom”: “Too much government planning means too much government power, and too much government power over the economy destroys freedom and makes men slaves. For Hayek, central planning was the first step to a totalitarian state.” German-speaking economists had experienced such a totalitarian state, whereas English-speaking economists had not.)
Page 167 – the statement “Communities with high rates of structural unemployment often suffer from serious social problems like alcoholism and other substance abuse, higher crime rates and higher rates of family breakdown.”
(The results of a study of the impact of long-term structural unemployment undertaken by the American Psychological Association can be found here: http://www.apa.org/about/gr/issues/socioeconomic/unemployment.aspx)
Pages 292 and 293 – Point 2 entitled ‘Poor governance’ in no way claims to offer a comprehensive explanation for the relatively low level of economic development among Native Canadians living on reservations. The article “There is hope for Canada’s First Nations” which is referenced in the teachers’ guide does, however, contain this inarguable statement: “Competent local government is the first requirement for successful communities, of any ethnicity or location.”
Students are encouraged to learn about the historical factors that have contributed to the problems facing Native Canadians today. Of particular interest would be information about the process by which they were placed on reservations and about the subsequent attempts that were made to assimilate aboriginals. Some thought-provoking articles can be found here: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/tag/aboriginal-reserves/
Unacceptable examples and contexts – in each case, teachers should approach the material with sensitivity to ensure that inappropriate stereotypes are not perpetuated.
Pages 119 and 150 – references to organized crime families (119) and the mafia (150) , should be approached with care, even though no particular ethnicity is mentioned.
Page 190 – the statement “If the people in high-growth developing countries like India and China are to continue to enjoy higher incomes and living standards, many thinkers fear that the world will begin to run out of crucial minerals and energy resources, and perhaps even food.” should not be interpreted in any way as ‘blaming’ people in developing countries for such feared shortages. As is made clear in the book, economic development is a good thing that improves human welfare immensely and that should therefore be shared by all people.
Pages 9, 35, 112, 145, 165 – the examples used on these pages (doctor, drink seller, monopolist, unemployed youth, person who loses job) are all men, reflecting a male gender bias. Please be sure to use female examples when possible to achieve a better balance.