The Empathy in Teaching Economics

Trifu A

Published on: 2022-12-26


The purpose of this paper is to discover if in the process of teaching Economics, especially General Economics, in higher education, the Empathy plays an important role, more important than in other fields, such as technical, medical, IT. Starting with my own experience, altogether with of other colleagues, economists and authors in the field, I’ve tried to support the idea that teaching Economics (basic Economics) is imbued with empathy, because in our world, in our times, it is better to have economic knowledge from the essential consideration that everything that surrounds us is an economic phenomenon and fact. Also, gathering the adequate economic vocabulary, the ease to use, or even juggling the specific economic terms and institutions, but whose meaning was well remembered, also denotes a quality of the initial communication of the information.


Empathy; Economics; Quality; Teaching; Success

General Approach of This Issue

A point of view can be also the following: at first sight, it would seem that the Empathy does not help very much in understanding economic terms. But, if we consider consumer behavior, the desire to know more and better, the Empathy helps students and those who want such knowledge and to learn specific skills in the analysis and practice of economic actions On the other hand, indeed, it does not help to understand such fundamental economic institutions as inflation unemployment, market, sustainability, profit. In some areas related to the customer, the quality of products or services, empathy helps. A high degree of Empathy is necessary in higher education as the most potent factor in bringing about change and learning [1]. That is, as we also consider so, the Empathy is one of the most determinant factor/action in higher education’s easy communication and understanding of what is taught (exposed). General Economics/Political Economy is more appropriate to affirming empathy, because it is needed of teacher’s ability and pedagogical know-how to understand the student’s reaction from inside and the fact that both theory and practice are understood and substantiated, having as a desired result the likelihood of learning to be much increased [2], Interactive communications are essential in this domain of teaching and learning. The basic Economics is built on the understanding of the fundamentals ideas, institutions and correlations between variables in the day-by-day activities, by asking, answering, agreeing or denying what it is presented. Speaking about Intellectual Empathy (Knowledge), it is essential to ensure the ability to re-construct the others’ viewpoints and reasoning, based on our ideas, premises, facts exposed. The works of Elizabeth Segal in the field are determinant ( Emphasizes the effectiveness of co-operative learning which implies the full participation, both teacher and student [3]. Furthermore, based on the abilities and means of teaching and communication of the teacher, it is possible to form groups of students, within which to disseminate the knowledge received and the strengthening of this knowledge thru the thinking and expertise of each of the group members. 


Basically, the study is based on my own experience and of my fellow colleagues, taking into account my responsibilities within university and faculty. On the other hand, the use of questionnaires regarding the evaluation of teachers by the students and teachers’ self-evaluation is strongly required.. We agree that, in these cases, the subjectivity of answers is high, possible not truth opinions about some issues, even the questionnaires are anonymous and completed by each student (probably by desiring not to upset the teachers by evoking less favorable situations). This approach, combined with the survey of specific literature and others experiences, configure the frame for the observation of empathy functioning and increasing possible results

In these terms, we can formulate now the work hypothesis for this case:

Hypothesis no. 1-it is necessary to take into account the empathy in academic activity.

Hypothesis no. 2- it is mandatory to use the feedback mechanism to understand the double sense empathy in Higher Education (teacher ↔ students).

The background has to be done and after that strenghtened. The discussions, the examples from day-to-day life, the answers and counter opinions are welcome. And, of course, the illustrations with schemes, graphs, and figures are also welcome, including the communications online.

Deeping the Analysis

Economics is a social science, driven by data and equations, in our days. But, generally speaking, it is deeply informed by economists, psychologists, sociologists,who have diverse  views, wrangle over ethical values and also numerical ones. In the same way that Paul Anthony Samuelson helped to redefine economics education after the devastation of the Great Depression, an international team of collaborators is now seeking to change how the discipline is taught and to shape the world view of future economists [4]. It’s about The Economics the famous textbook for the students in Economics, considered the basic book to teach Economics (since 1948, more than 19 editions until today). The essential action in this matter is to make the audience/students pay attention to the situation and secondly, to focus the auditor's attention on understanding ideas, economic institutions and economic realities of today. Yes, the aim is to convey information for teaching students the specific economic terminology. A new face of Economics, a new Curriculum is shaping and, hence, it is needed for a clear and straight transmission of knowledge, in such manner to get a relevant feedback for the proper of this knowledge in practice. First of all, we agree, the language used in teaching which matters. If we are talking about English, there are required linguistic skills, both for the teacher and for the students [5]. That is, the necessity that the effective communication of information/knowledge to be done in order to capture the interest and understanding of the students/audience and, secondly, to make them to answer adequately/in the knowledge of reason for what was exposed. Also in this first barrier to be dismantled, the linguistic one, an advocacy came from Yulian Semenchuk who presented the importance of this first, but decisive aspect in teaching and understanding Economics, the language used, but not the only one [6]. BUT, here it is the qualitative difference between his and other authors’ opinions in this respect and this one: he highlights the importance of the economic terminology, whilst this one is focused on the correct understanding of the terms, institutions, relationships between economic and social variables, which can be found in Economics science corpus. An example to understand how the problem should be put: it’s about the famous phenomenon of the Great Resignation, regarding the labor force within an economic entity. Not only this aspect interests.  After The Great Resignation and the quiet quitting, to be taken into account is the new trend of career cushioning. In front of the wave of dismissals or resignations (especially in American economy or regarding the giants Tech entities such as Twitter, Meta), people prepare a plan B  or a backup plan in order to be sure for the existence of a new job, when losing the present one.  The correct logo is, indeed, you before the job [7]. Also, taking into account the fact there are students or other participants to the lecture are already employees, or even entrepreneurs in start-ups programs, it is necessary to discuss all these aspects in-person and to be, exactly as definition says, in someone else’s shoes. That is, starting with the opinions of Professor Anthony Klotz from Texas A & M University, regarding the Great Resignation phenomenon and forecasts done for 2022 and, furthermore, for 2023, The Great Resignation is an economic movement , especially in the US, the statistics recorded from April 2021 until April 2022, 71.6 millions of Americans who leaved their jobs [8]. This movement is considered the precursor of the quiet quitting movement/activity. It is not about the resignation, but to focus on other activities which may bring you satisfactions, outside the main job. This is an activity which deals with employers, more than employees, a valve for the employees to act after the process of burnout, found in most sectors of activity [9]. Even that the phenomenon of Resignation continued in 2022, it fades a lot, because the prudence action intervenes and the intention of keeping the job/career cushioning in these times of strong uncertainty. Speaking about the Career cushioning, this actual phenomenon can be likened to so-called the Great Rehire, but immediately followed by Career Cushioning. It's never a bad career strategy to have a few backup plans in your pocket, even if you don't work for X or Y company, according to job market experts. The trend of career cushioning/precaution strategy is not surprising given that a growing number of companies which are laying off employees as they prepare for a potential recession caused by high inflation and rising interest rates and other unexpected events which may occur. Another example to be explained to the students or to those who want to follow the course: the well-known economist, Nouriel Roubini forecasts that it will follow “the mother of all crises”. In fact, the notorious economist said that the mother of all economic crises looms, and there will be little that policymakers can do about it [10]. This is what to explain for a better understanding of what is happening in our days: the core of Roubini’s concept is linked to the huge amount of public and private debts accumulated (private debts include corporations and households, public debts refer to government bonds, other formal liabilities, also including pay-as-you-go pension schemes). The relevant data supporting the stage we are now, presented also by Roubini, present that total private and public sectors debts, as a share from GDP, rose from 200% in 1999 to 350% in 2021. More precisely, the ratio is now 420% across developed/advanced economies. In US, the ratio is 420%, which higher than the Depression after WWII (and we are in the 21st century). Central banks were forced to raise interest rates to deal as possible with inflation, but the result was a sharply increase in debt-servicing costs, presented above. Roubini and the analists consider that the raising interest rates won’t work in the actual conditions, because the actual inflation is supply-oriented, not demand-driven. And, exactly this is the importance of teaching and exposing empathetic: understanding the phenomenon of inflation, as a negative vector in our activities and lives, of course and how everything is linked to this raise of interest rates. Hence, everything is going wrong and the economies loom to decline. On the other side, what means supply economics and supply oriented inflation. And which will be the consequences of this situation. The crisis threatens both developed and emerging markets, not to mention poorest countries which are already in crisis and at high risk of debt distress. Another explanation is that developed countries borrowed heavily in US dollars when interest rates were low and, now, of course, are facing to the explosion of inflation rate and to a huge surge in financing costs (also Mills, 2012) [11].


Empathy does not help those who want to make a lot of money, to get profit by any means, but support people in getting success and even Happiness in their domains of expertise. Positive answer refers to teaching process of Economics. A solid knowledge of the concepts, basic elements of Economics is needed. The robust understanding of the components of Economics is also based on Empathy, because we are people and work with people. We agree that important is also the lexical competence, either in English as the Globalization language, or in the specific language of higher education institutions involved in the analysis. Participating in meaningful communication, students choose activities they best satisfy their needs as communicators in different social and professional (or rather quasi-professional) roles. Pointing out interactive forms of activity as the most efficient in acquiring foreign language vocabulary and professional terminology. This is the case of the modern global and open universities, including students from all over the world. The ease of using, or even juggling with specific economic terms, BUT whose meaning was well remembered, is a sign of the quality and  even effectiveness of the teaching and learning process in Economics. The teaching and learning activity in Economics (our case), followed by the existence of a better organisation and a better working environment, are situations which are desirable in our times, both for employees and entrepreneurs/CEOs.


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