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The class book: an experiment

I've heard in the past of a few Econ departments where all students read a 'class book' and I've been eager to try it out.

My key drivers were:

  • Building reading stamina

  • Getting students more comfortable with non-fiction

  • Developing vocabulary

  • Broadening cultural capital (not sure how I feel about that phrase, but 'contextual knowledge didn't cut it either)

Obviously, a class set of books is quite an investment, so it was important to choose wisely. I wanted something at the right reading level, that was close enough to the spec so that the spec can help them to get the most out of the book, but that was different enough so that it could be much richer than a textbook and really help them to contextualise the spec. In the end, I went for the Bank of England's 'Can't We Just Print More Money'? by Jack Meaning and Rupal Patel.

Next, I made a reading plan. This was a case of balancing the needs of some of my students who find non-fiction reading very difficult and don't have huge stamina for it, with wanting to finish the book in a reasonable timeframe. I initially wanted to be done by Christmas, but when I came to divvy up the book into equal sections, I realised I would be asking students to read 20-25 pages each week. I knew this would potentially be intimidating for some of my students, and when I looked at the number of words or references my students might be unfamiliar with in chunks this large, I realised these could number well over 100. If my aim is to build more confident readers with stronger vocabulary and contextual knowledge, attempting to read large swathes of unreadable text is probably the wrong way of going about it. In the end, I opted to be done by Easter-ish, with sections as small as 5 pages.

That said, the first section is still 15 pages, the largest in the plan. I was able to devote more homework time to reading this week and the language in this section was a fair bit easier.

Anyway, this is what I've asked them to do, will report back on how it goes!

CWJPMM - Introduction
Download PDF • 454KB


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