When it comes to my classes and my students, I worry about many things. Perhaps worrying makes me a better teacher. Here are two things I at worrying about at the current time.
--I worry that students will not make good use of the 3-4 months they have off each summer. I know that college students are very busy people. Many have jobs or internships. Others are taking summer classes. However, learning simply cannot cease for such an extended period. That is not a good use of available time or brainpower. Learning should not be limited to formal classroom experiences. College students need to be getting themselves prepared for what educators refer to as “lifelong learning.” In our fast moving society, that becomes more and more important. No one can afford to stop learning at 22.
--I worry that students will wind up in a program or a major that does not really intrigue them. College should be a time of exploration when students discover their passions and then set out to follow them. No one wants to hear a senior say at graduation “I earned a major but I didn’t find it very interesting.”
As anyone who has followed this blog for long knows, I send out emails to my students over the summer. Below is one that I recently sent out to the juniors in my upcoming fall class. I am not sure how many will read the recommended book but I hope some/many do. It will be good for them and, perhaps, it will help them become more interested in their major. If nothing else, I have raised the issue of “are you in the right major?” At the start of the junior year, that is probably a good time to consider that question.
I realize that many readers of this blog do not teach in the business area. Okay, find a different book. What book could you recommend that might have this impact on your students? Surely, there has to be some book available that would work, some book that would be a good use of student time over the summer. Introduce it to your studies and make it sound interesting, make it sound worth reading.
To: Accounting Students for the fall semester
I was sitting on my front porch a few minutes ago reading the June 5, 2017, edition of Time magazine. I read something I wanted to share with you. The magazine had a discussion with Bill Gates, the richest person in the world and one of the most influential. The conversation was about the books he is currently reading and books he has previously read. The second question in the article was “What one, two or three books changed your life?” That question always fascinates me so I studied his answer carefully. Here is the second book he mentions.
“Warren Buffett loaned me his copy of Business Adventures by John Brooks many years ago. It’s still the best business book I’ve ever read. It’s a collection of Brooks’ New Yorker essays about why various companies succeeded or failed. The essay titled ‘Xerox Xerox Xerox Xerox’ should win an award for most clever chapter name, and the lessons inside the book are even better. I took inspiration from it while running Microsoft.”
I really don’t worry about teaching you accounting. I know this confession doesn’t sound like my reputation. You are bright and I suspect you will be willing to do the work necessary if I make it a fair (and not impossible) amount. What concerns me is whether you enjoy business enough? To me, business is absolutely fascinating. It is like playing in the Super Bowl where you are trying to figure out a product and a manufacturing process and a marketing process and the like that are so well done that people will give you their money. If you do all those things better than anyone else, then your company wins.
I have created and eventually sold two businesses and few adventures are more fun and more satisfying.
If that interests you, the fall will be a great semester. If that doesn’t interest you, then I’m not sure Intermediate Accounting is the course for you. You only have one life to live. I much prefer for it to be in an area that you love.
I say all of that to encourage you to get a copy of Bill Gates’s recommendation and read it. Hopefully, it will excite you about business. No, this is not an assignment. If you are only going to do what is absolutely required, then I already know you are in the wrong program. By this age, you should be doing stuff that interests you so much that you don’t have to be bribed to do it.
To be honest, I have not read this book. Nevertheless, Bill Gates has made more money than I have so his advice is probably better than mine. If you do read it, come by in the fall and tell me what you liked and what you didn’t like.
Hope you have a good Memorial Day.