Transformational Education > A new way of teaching
"I talked too much myself"
Frank Taussig taught Harvard economics students for almost exactly half a century. Although he was a productive scholar, serving as editor of the Quarterly Journal of Economics from 1896 until his retirement in 1936, he is best remembered today as a teacher.
Following Taussig's death in 1940, three of his distinguished colleagues—Joseph A. Schumpeter, Arthur H. Cole, and Edward S. Mason—contributed an article to the QJE celebrating his career. They described his teaching as follows:
"He was one of the first to realize that economic theory, like the theoretical part of any other subject, is not a storehouse of recipes or a philosophy, but a tool with which to analyze the economic patterns of real life. Hence the teacher's task consists in imparting a certain way of looking at facts, a habit of mind, an art of formulating the questions which we are to address to the facts."
"But it is not enough to understand the tool; the student must learn to handle it. Taussig's way of achieving this end was what he himself liked to call the Socratic method. At each meeting of the class, he started discussion on a particular problem which he admirably knew how to make interesting, and allowed his students to fight it out, guiding proceedings with a good-natured firmness that never has had and never will have its like. Returning from a meeting of his course, he once told a friend, 'I am not pleased with my performance today. I talked too much myself.'"