Saturday, December 26, 2009

Tip 31 -- Use Similes in AP Economics

Summary: Spice up content instruction using the writing techniques of similes.

How do you teach so that instruction sticks? Try using "figurative and descriptive" language. One technique I employ are similes. "Similes compare two unlike things using phrases that begin with like or as. Similes help you see pictures in your mind" writes Renee Kirchner. I use similes to make instruction concrete.

If I am talking about how a perfectly competitive market adjusts rapidly to equilibrium in AP Microeconomics, I will end by saying that the market will adjust to equilibrium faster than a Pentium 3 microprocessor. I try to avoid cliches like "faster than a speeding bullet" since students will view my instruction as uncreative. Suppose that I believe that wages are sticky downward in AP Macroeconomics. Then I might say, "Wages adjust slower than the seven-year itch."

I believe that pairing concepts with clever similes allows students to organize and recall the material easier. When students are working on homework, they have pictures to show the speed of adjustment in micro and macro. See if the following simile works for you that I lifted off of a commercial.

Assume that you are talking about interest rate adjustment in the Federal Funds Market. You could say that the Fed Funds Rate adjusts instantly after the Fed adds liquidity, and your students will understand it. Or you could say, "The Fed Funds Rate will adjust to the new equilibrium faster than a scarred Gazelle being chased by a Cheetah on the African plane."

I think students will appreciate you sense of humor, your agile use of language, and your passion to bring economics alive in their classroom. You will find that they can't wait to repeat your simile to a friend. You will find that students can recall more content faster and apply it to more circumstances.

About the Author: Mike Fladlien is an AP Economics teacher from Muscatine High School in Muscatine, IA. He is an author, and blogs at Mikeroeconomics faster than the furious scribblers of the U. S. Constitution.


Post a Comment

Have thoughts about this post? Want to share your comments about Teaching AP Economics? This is your chance.