On our trip to Ghana, we had ten students, two faculty members (who we basically considered students), and two professors. We tried to pull tables together so that all fourteen of us could have our meals together, but sometimes we’d be lazy and just sit at individual tables.
One morning, I had breakfast with one of the professors and another student. When I sat down, the professor and student were talking about the career track of a professor. I think both of us students walked away convinced that it was something we wanted to do. There are lots of reasons: the pay is good; the job comes with some level of prestige; you get summers off, a month off at Christmas, and Spring Break; but, most of all, I think it’s because I would just enjoy it, and I think I could do a better job than many incumbents.
We were talking about prices in Africa, and someone mentioned the conversion rate, but then added that because of PPP, things were a lot cheaper. When I learned about PPP, we talked about exchange rates, inflation rates, a “long-run equilibrium,” and some complicated formulas that no one understood.
In Ghana, a dollar could buy me three bottles of Coke. In America, a dollar might not even buy me one bottle of Coke. Why don’t discussions of PPP start there? It’s a really simple concept if it’s explained in terms that real people understand.
Accounting is probably the most boring subject I’ve ever taken. The problem with this is that accounting is a fascinating field. Understanding accounting principles helps you know enormous amounts about a company’s earnings. Understanding accounting can help you spot fraud. (Or conceal fraud.) But no professor ever taught it that way.
I think part of the thing is to throw out the textbooks. You need books, absolutely. But textbooks, almost by definition, are boring. This book has good reviews. (Of course it doesn’t cover the whole field of accounting.) You might throw in another book on fraud. Keep the assigned readings short. I think that, if you actually choose an interesting book, some students might actually read it! And maybe they’ll even want to come to class and learn.