Adam Smith’s £20 of fame

November 2, 2006

Adam Smith will replace composer Edward Elgar on the twenty-pound note next spring, according to the Bank of England.

Adam Smith's pin factory example, in a drawing

Adam Smith’s pin factory will also be featured on the new twenty-pound note.

So Smith gets his twenty-pounds of fame, a slight twist on Andy Warhol’s observation that everybody would get 15 minutes of fame in the future.*

The story in the Times Online is actually a much better feature on Adam Smith than is available in most of the high school economics books today. A major failing of the texts: They do not feature stories on the economists who make economics tick. Advanced Placement texts are better, but still there is room for improvement. My experience in the classroom is that the lives of the economists provide inspiration and, quite often, quirky historical anchors that help students understand and recall key points of economics. For most high school economics students, such enrichment comes only with the teacher’s providing it apart from the texts and other state- or district-provided materials.

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