If you haven't had a chance to listen to the Economics in Ten podcast, I'd really recommend you check it out. I've mentioned before that I have a neurological condition which means I spend a lot of time paralysed on one side, and podcasts like this have been a lifesaver to while away the hours! It's informative with loads of tidbits about the big economists but it's really easy listening.
Since every episode answers 10 questions about the economist in question, Gavin Simpson, one half of the team behind the podcast, answered 10 questions for me.
#1) So what is the podcast all about?
The ‘Economics in Ten’ podcast is all about famous economists. We start with their life story and the state of the world at that time (because we think this influences their thinking) and then take a look at their key theories. We then discuss the relevance of them today and how they influence our lives but also the criticisms attached to their thinking. We try and do it like an essay but without the final judgement. Start with the knowledge, show both sides of the debate and then leave it open for the listeners to make their own judgement. We have also made some ‘specials’ that aren’t focused on one particular economist because this gives us an opportunity to look at other areas of economics that we can’t do otherwise.
#2) And what prompted you to start it?
We started it because Pete was listening to some podcasts and he thought it would be something we could do and it was his New Year’s Resolution. His pitch to me was ‘Podcasts are just two blokes talking rubbish, I think we can do it.’
#3) How do you feel about your accolade as 'The Ant and Dec of Economics'?
It’s completely true of course but I’m not sure one of us could afford a £30 million divorce settlement! When we taught at school, we were described by our economic students as ‘Batman and Robin’. I’m not sure whether being called ‘Ant and Dec’ is an improvement!
#4) Do you think it's important for students to know about the economists behind the theory?
Yes…although we would say that because of what we are doing. Firstly their upbringing clearly has an impact on their thinking but secondly, their theories are developed during a particular time period and clearly time moves on. Therefore what might be correct then, might certainly not be correct now and yet their theories still remain hugely influential.
#5) How can teachers best use the podcast?
I know it’s an old term but I think of the podcasts as ‘stretch and challenge’ for the students. We made sure that the first 5 economists we looked at related to the specification we were teaching (which is Edexcel) and therefore it was easy for teachers to suggest our podcasts. We were also delighted to see that we were once used as a source for an EPQ, so that might be an area where our podcasts could help. I was also hoping that the poems we read out at the end could be used as wall displays because I think they are good summaries of the key ideas and criticisms of that particular economist.
#6) Can you recommend where episodes might fit in into the curriculum?
Clearly most of the economists have their own little bit in the curriculum but Smith is the biggie. All economics teachers will be fuming when the £20 changes, as surely we all use that to help teach specialisation and the division of labour! Ricardo and globalisation, Keynes and macroeconomics generally, Veblen and snob goods…etc. The one that would least relate is probably Ostrom but she’s an amazing thinker and any economics curriculum really should have her on it. Our ‘specials’ have seen us look at externalities, behavioural economics, types of unemployment, inflation, economic growth and lots of other areas in economics.
#7) What has been your favourite episode?
We really enjoyed doing the environmental one and yet it has had the fewest plays!
#8) What goes into making the podcast?
We do a lot of research/reading beforehand and then we make a little podcast recording studio that involves lots of duvets and pillows to absorb echo and then we just go for it. We use anchor.fm as our podcast hosting site and once it is uploaded, they distribute it across all the main podcast listening platforms. We have our mate Nic who tries to make it sound as good as it can be and then adds music and the odd special sound effect. Pete always cooks something as well that relates to the economist and that can be quite an effort, although I am very appreciative of the mid-recording break!
#9) How can teachers support the podcast?
We’ve been delighted with the support from the teacher community. If they can keep encouraging students to listen to it, we would really appreciate it but we have also found that quite a few parents have started listening to it as well, so maybe they could suggest it at Parents’ Evening!
#10) What's next for Economics in Ten?
We were delighted to win the PodBible Independent Podcast of the Year for 2019 and that means we will be featured in the PodBible magazine that will be distributed with The Sunday Times on the 2nd Feb. Hopefully this will mean more people will listen. We are trying to crack China!!! Other than that, our ambitions remain small. We are trying to encourage more diversity in economics and hopefully this has been reflected in our reading recommendations and our second season. Ultimately we just want to share our love for economics across the world!