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News and information from Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

PSU professor uses baseball to teach economics

Dr. Kenny McDougle would agree that the legendary baseball rhetoric of Abbot and Costello – "Who's on first, What's on second, I Don’t Know is on third" – is as confusing to school kids as contemporary economic theory.

But last summer, as McDougle sat watching a Royals game in Kansas City, the professor in Pittsburg State University's Department of Curriculum and Instruction began to see more than just a simple game playing out on the field before him. Concepts of economics suddenly began to take shape – a player in discussions with an umpire, batters progressing from base to base. Through the eyes of a teacher, it was one big metaphor.

"There were defining moments in the game, like when the umpires were walking off the field and one of them threw some extra baseballs into the crowd," said McDougle. "That represents surplus. I came back and talked to my students about it and we thought, 'Why don't we put baseball and economics together?'"

After much creative planning with two area teachers, he's done just that. This summer, McDougle hopes to make economics easier for American school children to grasp through his "Baseball Economics" class. The two-day course will show educators how to teach the subject by comparing it to the great American pastime.

The course runs June 20-21, and includes presentations from baseball coaches and managers, as well as a field trip to the Negro Baseball Museum in Kansas City. Students will also take in a Royals game. The course is good for one credit hour.

Although McDougle has experimented with creative summer courses in the past, this is his first time to offer a class comparing economics to an athletic sport. "Economics is hard for a lot of people," said McDougle. "This is part of a national movement to make citizens more aware."

Baseball isn't the only image that teachers can use to teach economis. McDougle is also presenting "Play Dough Economics," a course designed by a group of Indiana teachers. In this class, students mold goods they plan to sell out of Play Dough, learning economic concepts such as trading and bartering.

It’s this kind of out-of-the-box thinking, says McDougle, that makes summer school such a 'hit.' "Any way you can make the course connect with something students are already familiar with, it's beneficial."

For information, contact McDougle at 620-235-4495, kmcdougle@pittstate.edu.

---Pitt State---