I love to teach. It is my passion and my main reason for becoming an academic. I have been teaching for over 30 years, as a beginning tutor in Economics 101 at Iowa State University, in the USA, to a Professor of Economics at the Australian National University. Over the years I have taught more than a dozen different courses, ranging from the History of Economic Thought to Advanced Mathematical Economics, to literally thousands of students.
I especially love inspiring students to learn; to learn especially complicated and often highly technical material -- essential to applied economic research -- material that most of them are otherwise very uncomfortable with, or even fear. Most of my teaching now occurs at the post-graduate level in required quantitative courses in microeconomics and mathematical economics. My mission is to train students in applied economics, giving them the capability to do high quality research and deliver sound policy advice. I learn a great deal from their insights and enthusiasm, and they learn from my ability to communicate difficult material, making it interesting and relevant. Although technical and mathematical in content, I teach with a 'story telling' style, always concentrating on a particular application and the lessons learned from experience in applied research. Every lecture has an application. I sell the excitement and logic of the material, as well as its practical use.
I perhaps take the most pride in my ability to engage all of my students in the classroom, each and every one of them, from the gifted to those that sometimes struggle. As Professor Quentin Grafton, a former student of mine from 20 years ago, and now a colleague, puts it: "[Tom's] teaching style involves 'active learning' which gives students the opportunity to develop their own skills by building models and understanding rather than absorbing the received knowledge of others. This allows students to reach their highest possible potential...This is his gift: making difficult and technical material both understandable and practical. His students love it and praise him for it."
In 2010 I received an Australian Award for University Teaching - Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning.