Rates

Since I teach social studies, it happens from time to time that I can use current events as real life application for what we’re doing in class. I actually wish it would happen a little more often, but for AP US History, we don’t spend much time at all on recent events, and for AP Macroeconomics, I find myself saying “in theory” quite a bit during the semester if that tells you anything. That changed this week when the Federal Reserve decided to cut interest rates by half of a percentage point. Talk about a teachable moment.

The day that I started to teach the mechanics of monetary policy, there it was on the front page of the Wall Street Journal that gets delivered to my classroom everyday. (No one at the school knows why they are delivered. No one pays for them.) Of course there is some disagreement from economists about whether or not this interest rate cut was a good idea or not. I know they were just trying to play a mind game with consumers, businesses, and the various financial markets, but I just kinda ignored that part.

These kinds of teachable moments are what we educators really enjoy. As I was holding up the paper to show my class the headline, a remarkable thing happened. Some of my AP Macroeconomics students actually paid more attention and asked questions. I’d like to think that what we were doing in class became a little more real to them, even if it was just for the tiniest fraction of a second.

So much about banking and the money supply is abstract to them because they do not have any experience with it yet. This is definitely one of the more difficult topics that I have to cover every semester, but it is also one of the more practical. I’ll take any help I can get driving home the content.

Now if the Federal Reserve, or anyone else, could figure out this whole Coronavirus thing so we can get on with Spring Break without worrying every time a stranger coughs in our general direction, that would be great.