This article from Nicole Foss outlines with great clarity the ‘trust cycle’ that I believe underlies long-wave business cycles. In times of growing trust, institutions are able to function effectively to the benefit of all. Eventually, though, that high degree of trust provides the perfect environment for the perpetration of fraud. In the end, fraud leads to a contraction of trust which both imposes costs on and limits the scale of economic enterprise. Finally, the costs of operating in a low-trust environment become obvious enough to cause people to demand reforms which, properly carried out, can restore trust. Of course, while trust can be destroyed very quickly, it needs a great deal of time to be restored.
I was pleased to present a workshop (and take in an excellent panel discussion on the War of 1812 and listen to a very interesting keynote speech by John Ralston Saul) at the Ontario History and Social Studies Teachers’ Association annual conference held at Niagara Falls on the 23rd and 24th of November. Below is a photo taken in front of my vendor booth:
It has been a busy fall – after the conference I went to Oman and Singapore in order to visit friends and attend to matters to do with my I.B. economics book, Workbook for the New I.B. Economics.
Upon my return my most recent article comparing the corruption being investigated by the Charbonneau Commission in Quebec to the corrupt rigging of the LIBOR by bankers was published in the Pembroke Daily Observer. The article is reproduced here if you are interested in reading it:
Getting beyond envelopes of cash V2
Thank you for your support and interest in 2012. Please accept my best wishes for a restful and joyous holiday season and a wonderful 2013.
Today I was pleased to receive my first order from an Ontario community college with an order from Algonquin College for books for the winter semester. Thank you!
I was pleased to speak with many teachers at the recent OBEA conference held at Conestoga College in Kitchener-Waterloo who are interested in using Economics for Canadians with their CIA 4U students. In conversation, though, some teachers expressed concern that principals might not approve purchases of consumable books in the current economic climate.
I addressed these concerns with some of the teachers I spoke with but would like to reproduce here some arguments one could use to support adoption of the book:
1. First, the principle that it is wrong to demand that students purchase consumable materials does not preclude schools from adopting them for use. While most students would choose to have their own copy, having a few copies available for loan in the school library makes it possible for students to use the book without having to purchase it.
2. Second, as the book is just $17 per copy, as a consumable it still works out to be less expensive than a hard-bound textbook over the long run, especially when one takes into account the cost of photocopying exercises. There are about 100 pages of exercises in each book. If these were to be photocopied, the cost to the school (at 7 cents per copy) would work out to around $7. Thus, the ‘text’ portion of each book costs only about $10. As hard-bound texts routinely cost around $80 per copy, we can see that the cost to the school of purchasing Economics for Canadians for students each year is no more expensive than purchasing one class set of hardcover books intended to last 8 years.
However, as Economics for Canadians will be updated every couple of years, while those students using a hard-bound text will be using a book that is clearly out of date by the time year 8 rolls around, those students using Economics for Canadians will be using a book that is much more current.
Overall, the schools which are already using the book have reported that students like using it as it serves as their notebook as well. The beauty of a consumable workbook is that students can write margin notes on its pages, truly making the book their own.
I was fortunate to attend, exhibit and present at the 2012 British Columbia Social Studies Teachers’ Association annual conference this past weekend. I most enjoyed hosting two workshops for teachers interested in the book. The good news that I learned from the teachers in the workshops is that high school economics is now a course that can be included in the average that determines British Columbia university admissions. Hopefully this recent change will result in more students choosing to take the course.
I would like to thank the conference organizers and the students of Vancouver Tech who were all wonderfully helpful. I look forward to attending next year!
The “Additional Resources” page is now chock full of links to articles and documentary clips, arranged according to lesson. Question sheets to accompany some of the more important videos have been placed on the bottom of the page.
As well, my most recent article from this past weekend’s Pembroke Daily Observer looking at how the Ontario government’s proposed pay-freeze legislation would violate important property rights is reproduced below:
The Allure of Shortcuts
I am going to be hosting workshops and distributing inspection copies of Economics for Canadians at 3 conferences this fall – the BCSSTA conference in Vancouver on October 19th, the OBEA fall conference at Conestoga College in Kitchener-Waterloo on November 3rd, and the OHASSTA conference in Niagara-on-the-Lake on the 23rd and 24th of November. If you plan on attending any of these conferences, I look forward to meeting you!
Today I was pleased to receive a big order from P.E.I. for books. As the ministry orders all materials centrally for the entire province, I am assuming that all economics students there will be using Economics for Canadians in the very near future. Thank you!
I was also pleased to learn a few days ago that the book was mentioned in the Queen’s Alumni Review back in June. Hopefully it will make the cut for the autumn print edition of the magazine.
This past week I distributed inspection copies of Economics for Canadians to English-language CEGEPs in Quebec while next week I will be visiting many of Ontario’s community colleges to do the same.
Meanwhile, I am pleased to have received a few orders for class sets of the book from Ontario high schools. I am surprised to have received these orders as it was almost the summer holidays by the time I was able to get inspection copies into some Ottawa-area schools and to some other interested teachers I had met during the OBEA spring conference. Anyway, I am happy that these teachers (and department heads) had some money in their budgets and will be able to use Economics for Canadians with their students right away!
One question that came up on my tour of Quebec this week was whether the book had been peer-reviewed. On reflection, I can say that the book has been professionally reviewed three times. First, I engaged the lead teaching assistant for first-year economics at Queen’s University as the book’s proofreader. He shared with me his opinion that students using the book would be well-prepared for university-level economics. Second, I paid for a formal evaluation by Curriculum Services Canada in hopes of getting the book placed on the Ontario Ministry of Education’s Trillium List of approved textbooks. While the book was not recommended for inclusion on the Trillium List, the evaluators stressed that “the textbook is of excellent quality, overall.” Lastly, this book grew out of my first book, Workbook for the New I.B. Economics, which has so far sold over 2500 copies to International Baccalaureate schools around the world. The feedback I received from the I.B. teachers using the book definitely had an impact on the form and content of Economics for Canadians. Overall, while of course I did proofread and edit Workbook for the New I.B. Economics, I have to admit that I now regard it as almost a first draft for Economics for Canadians, and cannot wait to improve it later this year when I anticipate having to reprint it.
Last week I received the evaluation report from Curriculum Services Canada for “Economics for Canadians.” The good news? The evaluators stressed that the book was of excellent quality overall. The bad news? Due to concerns regarding issues of bias and sensitivity, the book was not recommended for inclusion on the Trillium List.
Sadly, I am not allowed to share the evaluation report in full, as despite my having had to pay CSC to prepare the report, it is the property of the Ministry of Education of Ontario and is confidential. I wish it weren’t because the report is overwhelmingly positive concerning the book’s content, methodology, and assessment. As my proofreader put it to me after handing back the manuscript, students using the book will understand what economics is about and will be well-prepared to study it at the university level.
While I am disappointed that the book will not be on the Trillium List I also feel that the bias and sensitivity issues raised in the report are somewhat frivolous. Understandably, the Ministry is extremely cautious about ensuring that nothing it approves could lead to accusations of bias or insensitivity. However, as my graphic designer and style editor (who is herself quite aware of matters of sensitivity and bias) did not find anything objectionable in the book I continue to feel confident recommending the book be used with Ontario students.
As I will be distributing the book liberally at both the OBEA and OHASSTA conferences this fall I hope that as many interested teachers as possible will have the opportunity to see the book and judge for themselves. In the end, it is the responsibility of teachers to select the materials which best fit the learning needs of their students.
I attach below the letter from the Ministry for your perusal. The bias and sensitivity issues raised by the Curriculum Services Canada evaluators can be found on the “Errors and Corrections” page of this website.
Non-Approval Letter – Croecko Publishing Economics for Canadians