Fight of the Century in the classroom

by Russ Roberts on May 1, 2011

in Education, Uncategorized

If you have already used the Fight of the Century rap video in the classroom or have seen it as a student, I’d love to hear from you.

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JBaldwin May 1, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Any plans for an annotated study guide???

Speedmaster May 1, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Dr. Roberts, at the beginning when Dr. Munger calls someone on the radio, is that your voice on the other end? ;-)

Russ Roberts May 1, 2011 at 11:08 pm

That is actually John’s voice. But I am in the video if you know where to look…

Speedmaster May 2, 2011 at 10:13 am

I plan a lengthy post about the video tomorrow, I’ll watch a few times again tonight. :-)

Jon Murphy May 1, 2011 at 8:25 pm

I have seen the videos as both a student and I used them to teach (I’m a student tutor). I love both videos. They do a great job explaining the differences in economic thought in entertaining ways.

As with your other work, Dr. Roberts, you take complicated issues and simplify them without cheapening the lesson. Keep up the great work!

I hope when I become a professor, I can be as good as you

will sankey May 1, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Yes I have on Friday. I put the 2nd half of hayek’s lyrics on a handout and reviewed that we are the economy, what gov bailout are, and bring responsible for ones own self.
I teach us history at a state owned HS.

Thanks for putting such a great teaching tool together. The kids really liked the hip hop style and beat.

Aaron May 1, 2011 at 9:35 pm

I tutor first and second-semester macroeconomics students at my school, and I absolutely love this video! I’ve started using it in my tutoring sessions when we discuss Hayek (my school teaches Keynesian economics almost exclusively, sadly), and it really gets the basic ideas across to students – and provides me with the opportunity to discuss the major philosophies behind Hayek — especially, most important for freshmen economists, the pretense of knowledge…..

Daniel Kuehn May 1, 2011 at 10:20 pm

I like the inclusion of Kling in the material – this is an interpretation that I think is perhaps incomplete but is an important contribution to longer term trends associated with this downturn.

This might be of interest to people too on the WWII point:

coyote May 1, 2011 at 10:26 pm


The kids in my son’s high school economics class loved the first one so much they rearranged their schedule to watch the new rap first day.

The kids thought it even better than the first – I think perhaps because it was more immediately relevant to issues they have seen and discussed over the last year. Love to have you come speak, by the way, if you are ever in the Phoenix area.

Ken May 2, 2011 at 9:45 am

I teach marketing, not economics, so I haven’t used it…yet. When I teach a marketing principles marketing or strategy course, though, I start the term by describing exchange using Wroe Alderson’s framework, and introduce the concept of marketing as the means (tools, practices, and institutions, more or less as outlined by Shelby D. Hunt) via which exchange is conducted. I use layman’s language for undergraduate students, of course, but the underlying principles are not difficult.

I teach voluntary mutual exchange as one of the foundation stones of civilization, which makes it imperative for us to conduct ourselves as well as we possibly can.

I’m thinking about whether/how these videos can be worked into the curriculum (along with Hazlitt’s Thinking As a Science). Haven’t settled it yet, but I’m thinking about it.

Howie Baetjer May 2, 2011 at 10:41 am


I plan to show and discuss it today in my Comparative Economic Systems class. I use _The Invisible Heart_ and _The Price of Everything_ in my honors micro principles class. Thanks for all you have done for us. –HB

Daniel Kuehn May 2, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Hi –
I know a guy that took your classes at Towson and he speaks very highly of you. Ever since he mentioned you to me, I’ve been meaning to ask you – are you related at all to Baetjer of the old Venable, Baetjer, and Howard firm? My great grandad – Vernon Eney – was a partner there from 1951-1980, so I thought you might be familiar with him. His daughter (my grandma) has lived a couple blocks away from Towson University for decades now.

Daniel Kuehn May 2, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Weird question, I know – but I figured there can’t be too many Baetjer’s in Towson, so it was worth asking.

Liberty 1 May 2, 2011 at 10:46 am

An early thought of mine was “School House Rock for the modern HS student”
I think our country would be very well served if every HS student watched, picked a side, and had to debate why their side was the better choice.

indianajim May 2, 2011 at 11:42 am

I used it on the last lecture day of the term, last Friday. I think it reinforced a number of things that I had covered very nicely. Thanks for creating it; I plan to use it again and again.

TimB May 2, 2011 at 3:13 pm

My oldest son (freshman) is taking AP Government this semester. A couple weeks ago, they had a chapter that had a brief overview of economic principles, Keynes vs Laissez-faire, the basics of fiscal and monetary policies. He introduced his teacher to your 1st video, and the teacher showed it to his class. Nathan said most of the students didn’t understand much of it, but at least it introduced them to some of the ideas. This class doesn’t go into any subject in too much depth. Nathan probably understands much more about the subject than his teacher, after reading some of your blog with me and listening to some podcasts over the last few years.

Both my boys have loved your videos and have been a great jumping off point for discussions at home. So, many thanks!

I get a kick out of my younger boy (5th grade) listening over and over to the videos, memorizing the rap. A couple days ago, he had a friend over and showed him the videos. I overheard him say to his friend, “Dude, you’ve never heard of Austrian economics before?”

Russ Roberts May 2, 2011 at 4:42 pm


That makes my day. Incredible.

Econdude May 2, 2011 at 7:08 pm

I forwarded the link to team members in my MBA cohort. Since they already refer to me as the economist, this did not assist in updating my reputation, not that it is needed! All loved it, and one even commented that he was amazed a couple of economists could keep his attention for 10 minutes. Bravo!

Jack Givens May 2, 2011 at 7:11 pm

As a homeschool family we welcomed follow up the the original. Great to have a fun way to convey the issues of government intervention. Thanks, we love the video, blog, and the podcast.

Marco May 2, 2011 at 8:11 pm

I’m teaching 12th grade economics at a charter school in Los Angeles. I just used Round Two in class today. We’ve been looking at the causes of the recession and possible fixes, though technically the unit’s main theme is the role of government involvement in a market economy. I covered the basics of Keynes and Hayek on Friday, trying to be evenhanded. One point that I’ve been stressing throughout the unit is the size of the national debt and how much that breaks down to on an individual level, and that whatever the government spends is likely to add to this debt. The students get this, and most also understand the difference between these two economists when it comes to the subject of massive stimulus spending.

I gave them a warm-up first, in which they basically discussed in groups, contrasting Keynes and Hayek’s ideas about the role of government in the economy during a recession, focusing on stimulus spending. Then, we discussed their conclusions, and then looked over a series of questions on a worksheet about the content of the video. I showed it once all the way through, just asking them to watch. The second time, I asked them to look for the answers and I replayed particularly important parts.

Reaction varied a bit by period. First is my “not awake yet” period, and the response was a bit tepid. Second really liked it, and third enjoyed it too. Fifth, which meets after lunch and tends to be just a bit sluggish when the lights dim, was a touch quiet. While a few of the students thought that it was too long, Fifth still reacted quite well. Almost all of the students seem to be understanding the different approaches of the two economists.

The classes are split on which approach is best. When they study Bush and Obama’s stimulus efforts in a few days, I’ll see how their opinions may develop. They’ll be examining news stories, opinion pieces, blog posts, and political cartoons. Some of these sources will conflict a bit with each other. Each group will then teach their bit to the rest of the class. Our final unit project will be based on their understanding of the success or lack of such of these efforts, and on the degree to which the expense related to each stimulus may have been worth it. Their final unit project will be a letter to a member of Congress, saying what they think, if anything, should be done to stimulate the economy, mining what they have learned for supporting evidence.

These students are Latinos who range from very poor to middle-class. Some are illegals or the children of illegals. Many speak English as their second language. Their behavior is better than that of their peers in other public schools. When I’ve spoken about the free market, I’ve used swap meets as an example, and all of them totally get this. Such markets are very important in their community. Most enjoy rap. The video really helped to emphasize what I’ve been teaching. I really appreciate these videos!


Russ Roberts May 3, 2011 at 9:27 am


Can you send me your email? Please contact me at russroberts at gmail dot com. Thanks!

Cyril Morong May 3, 2011 at 1:47 pm

My students seemed to enjoy it. It was the last thing we did this semester, just after covering differing views on macro policy. Nice way to end things. One of my students had actually seen it and told me about and liked it alot (although I was already planning to show it). I teach principles at a community college. Thanks again for putting it together.

After the testimony is over, one person shaking hands with Hayek looks a little like Mankiw

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