For graduate students, Paul Krugman is (of course) completely right: if you aren’t very and roughly equally comfortable speaking verbal-narrative, drawing graphical-analytic-geometric, and writing down equation-based mathematical analyses and descriptions of an economic problem, you are doing it wrong and should fix it by learning your tools.
I simply do not think visually. Charts, maybe OK, but graphs? Nope, just don’t “see” them. And equations for me are even worse. I know that some people can read mathematical symbols in the same way that I can and do read a sentence. Ah, yes, if that squiggle moves that way then this other one over here will obviously be doing that. And it simply doesn’t make any sense to me at all.
The only time any academic activity (which may be a sign of how little I’ve done but still) which has literally reduced me to tears is trying to compose equations. People shouting at me that obviously if a is this and x is that then it’s ax2=b or summat. I was able to learn some of the rules about how you manipulate equations: solving quadratics and so on. But how to actually set one up from a description of a problem was and is just entirely gobbledegook.
Err, no, sorry, I just don’t get it.
Which is why I’m not an economist even if I write a lot about the subject, understand bits of it, could even claim to be in a couple of very, very, specific areas out at the leading edge of the discussions of the subject (and grossly and entirely ignorant on many others). My inability at two of these three methods is such that I wouldn’t even actually get into a Russell Group economics course these days. Yes, an undergraduate one. Even back when I was fresh from three or fours years of calculus I wouldn’t get into a course these days. Sure, I knew how to integrate, that can be learned by rote, it’s just something you do with the information provided to end up proving that 1=1. But it never actually made any sense to me.
As equations and graphs just do not today.
In fact, it’s even worse than that. I know very well that I just don’t think visually. Pictures, paintings (no jokes about modern abstracts please), videos, animations, they’re just not the way for me to absorb information.
Odd but there it is.