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Writing to Learn

Robert Frank, economics professor at Cornell, has a charming essay in today’s Times about using short writing assignment to teach economics — or anything else:

Learning economics is like learning a language. Real progress in both cases comes only from speaking. The economic-naturalist papers induce students to search out interesting economic stories in the world around them. When they find one, their first impulse is to tell others about it. They are also quick to recount interesting economic stories they hear from classmates. And with each retelling, they become more fluent in the underlying ideas.

I’ve borrowed the title of the post from William Zinsser’s well-known book, which makes a similar argument.