by John Q on December 9, 2020

As was the case with Economics in Two Lessons, I’ve been struggling with the material for my book-in-progress, The Economic Consequences of the Pandemic. But I’ve now managed to put together a synopsis I can work with. I’d very much appreciate comments, including but not limited to: topics I should be covering; issues raised by the brief summaries; and useful references. Thanks for comments so far, and thanks in advance for more.

Teaching in person

by Harry on December 9, 2020

Here’s a piece by Deborah Parker at Inside Higher Education which describes what it has been like for her teaching in-person this semester. My experience has been almost exactly like hers, the main exceptions being that nobody spoke in Italian in my classes, and that attendance was close to perfect.

Speaking for myself here: teaching in-person has been almost completely normal. It turns out, for example, that once you have met in masks two or three times you stop noticing the masks. Sometime in October I bumped into a student with 3 of her friends on a walk and we had an extended conversation for about 20 minutes. Afterward I realised I had no idea whether she, or her friends, had been wearing masks (I was, but they didn’t have to be) — later she told me that she and one friend were maskless and the other two were masked, but honestly I had no idea. It shouldn’t be surprising that sitting at a distance feels normal – there’s a fairly rigorous social norm already of leaving an empty seat between oneself and the next student if one can. [1]

I would say that teaching in a mask is more tiring than normal teaching: I imagine that has something to do with speaking louder, and presumably getting less oxygen. But the teaching I’ve done over zoom has been exhausting, so teaching in a mask is less tiring than the available alternative. And there are many compensations: one gets to move around, share smiles and laughter with the students, hear the ambient noise, and share a sense of camaraderie.

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