A few days ago, I posted some advice that I had given to my students about the amount of true study time they needed to invest to succeed in my class. In that essay, I made the point that students need someone to give them some direction now and then. That is one of the reasons many of them come to college. I doubt that anyone disagrees with the idea that a college teacher can provide guidance to students about their study habits. You might not do it but I do not suspect that anyone thinks it is a problem.
Today, I want to talk more about sharing advice with students. This might be a bit more controversial. I never take class time to give advice outside of subject matter. Never. However, I do use email to do so. If I see or read something that I think students should consider, I put it in an email and send it to them. Most of the time it is about a book or a movie that I think is worthwhile. Is that part of my job as an accounting professor? I personally think so but I do understand that some might disagree.
As an example, here is an email that I sent to my students yesterday morning. I hate to sound so much like a baby boomer but I think it is hard for anyone to understand the animosity in the U.S. today without some idea of how the country went from the solid backing for World War II to the country splitting controversy of the Vietnam War just 20 years later.
Of course, as always, this is my style of being a college professor. Teachers must figure out what works for them. In many ways, I think that is the key to being an effective teacher. Find out the style that works for you. But, in most cases, some experimentation can help you in that quest.
To my students:
I occasionally make recommendations to students because I want them to get a well-rounded educational experience. Usually, it is something I have seen or heard that I thought was well done. Here is one recommendation that is a bit different.
I believe three events over the past 100 years have had more impact on the United States than any others. What we are today as a country has been greatly influenced by these events: the Great Depression, World War II, and the Vietnam War. (I will add 9/11 to that list and make the total four.) I might argue that the Vietnam War had the greatest influence because it threatened to tear the country apart. A lot of the hostility that we see in the country today was born at that time. I still remember watching the television news when they announced that the Ohio national guard had started shooting and killing college students at Kent State. Even in the odd times we live in, can you possibly imagine that announcement today?
Starting on Sunday night, the PBS (public broadcast stations) will have Ken Burns’ ten episode series on the Vietnam War. Most college students really don’t understand the influence that the war has had on the people of this country. I know you are busy. But, if you have the time, it might be worth watching a few of the episodes. It is truly a living history lesson.
If you watch and want to chat about it, come see me. I always like to talk. But, remember, when I was exactly your age, I knew that there was a decent chance that I would be drafted into the military and sent 12,000 miles away where I had a reasonably good chance of getting killed in a war that I did not understand. Again, times are odd today but put yourself in that picture. My guess is that it is not a picture that you can even create in your head.