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.

3 thoughts on “Professor

  1. Professor can a great job. It is one that I would like. THe problem is getting there. That PhD can be a pain. It may be easier in some fields than others. Getting one in Computer Science seems like a 5-7 year process. Education seems like about 2 years; maybe 3. Then there is getting the job. Job security comes with tenure which can be very hard to get at some schools. But if you get there you have it made it seems.

  2. Mmm, I have to disagree with your comment that “no professor ever taught it that way,” you just never took higher level accounting courses beyond basic accounting 101… otherwise known as duh, accounting.

    I’ll have you know my honors financial accounting professor would go into great detail on how real companies used GAAP to their advantage and even to commit fraud.

  3. But why aren’t the entry-level accounting professors interesting? Wouldn’t they want to interest some people in their field?

    Freshman year I was slightly interested in accounting, not sure if I should do management or accounting or what. The bit of accounting we saw in GB101 was absurdly boring. My management class (GB103) was one of the most interesting classes I’ve ever taken, and really made me feel like management was the thing for me.

    But imagine if I’d had one of the terrible management professors, and my GB101 professor showed us the interesting side of accounting. I may have considered switching my major.

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