teaching and being taught, and links

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this on this blog or not, but I spent a fair amount of time as a part-time schoolteacher for both middle school and college freshmen as a substitute teacher and later as a graduate assistant. I taught intro to calculus and accounting in grad school and substituted for math, gifted ed and other subjects when I was still chasing my starry-eyed dream of becoming a math professor.  I was good.  My students liked me and I don’t recall if I’ve ever had a negative review or bad experience teaching (I don’t think I have).  I continued my teaching/training throughout my corporate career, leading new employee classes and training in software for over 15 years.  I like training and teaching.  Nowadays I do little of that as a corporate consultant – nobody wants me to train, they want me to DO.  And now, if not yesterday.

Well, I get glimpses of the past and flashbacks now that I have kids. I spent a couple of days at my children’s preschool/pre-K school where Little Buddy attends pre-K and Pumpkin goes to daycare (or preschool or whatever you’d like to call it).  I do realize from time to time, when I self-analyze my abilities, that I do have one ability if nothing else:  kids like me.  I can engage them in learning and don’t make them nervous as some other parents do.  I probably would have made a decent grade school or middle school teacher if I could have supported a family on that salary.  That’s a sad observation, frankly, but one for another post.

I’ll make one other observation, too, unrelated to personal finance or careers: my children’s school concentrates heavily on play, and I like it.  Not learning, but play – directed, but not with any intention towards teaching any specific subject.  It’s interesting as a parent to process the conflicting emotions that arise from watching this:  you want your kids to learn but I also (mentally) slap myself and say “Pumpkin’s not even 3 yet – she deserves play time.”  I’m a firm believer in the concept that kids need play time – creative time, self-directed – to develop themselves.  They’ll have plenty of time to be crammed into desks and forced to learn times tables later, I guess.  Just my parental opinion, I guess.

MonaVie Blackmails Me?: Stunning that a company, or a rep for a company, would stoop this low. Read the article to see how low a supposedly ‘legitimate’ company can stoop. You can also read MonaVie: Multi-Level Marketing Gone Haywire for more idiocy. I can’t believe anyone falls for MonaVie’s crap after I’ve read stuff like this.

Blue Cash Rewards Increase: I’ve owned a Blue Cash card for years, so this is good news.  I’ll take it…

Social Lending Arbitrage Beats Projections: I still think Lending Club is a good bet – if you’re interested in trying it they have a $25 signup bonus right now.  I’d treat it like any other investment – it has its ups and downs, but it can serve as a reasonable diversification strategy versus the market.

Personal Finance the Krav Maga Way: Since I’ve seen all the Krav Maga signs up around my neighborhood, I thought this was an amusing – and timely – post.

Small but Alarming Indicator: This is unpleasant – but not unexpected – anecdotal news.  On the other hand, Bubelah just attended a small business workshop where they barely had enough room for the interested attendees, and I remarked that it must have been all of the laid-off people thinking about launching small businesses (and good for them if they were)…

Life After Debt: What It’s Like in the Third Stage of Personal Finance: Just an interesting read, on many levels (fitness, travel, etc.)

and more…

  • http://freefrombroke.com Craig

    I’m totally with you. I sometimes think traditional schooling works to suck out a child’s real creative forces. When they are young and they play you really can see their thought process and see them shine. It’s when they play that they are curious and they examine things. Ever notice a young child can makes the most profound and simple statement about something?

    The center we bring my son to sounds like what you are talking about. There is a specific agenda to learn but it’s all done through play and hands on experience.

    Sounds like you would be a great teacher. See, this is why it’s a shame teachers get paid so little. You mentioned it, if being a teacher paid more you might consider it. Kids lose out on folks like you because of the pay.

  • http://funny-about-money.com Funny about Money

    That’s so interesting! So is your master’s in math, then? Do you have a Ph.D. Or maybe you’re ABD?

    People with talent who know their subjects well…gosh, how desperately they’re needed at all levels of education! Especially in math, a subject that many bright students find difficult.

    If you have a master’s, you have access to a nice sidestream income with altruistic overtones: teaching in your local community colleges. Pay is excruciating, but the intangible rewards are high. And you do earn enough to buy, say, a new clothes washer when yours breaks down.

    It’s pathetic that we don’t pay teachers what other professionals earn. It says, IMHO, what we really think about our children and what we really care about, as a nation. Too bad.

    Bringing up my son, I agreed whole-heartedly that children need time to be children — just to play, without a lot of outside interference from the upwardly mobile parent. In retrospect, now that my son is an unhappy and inadequately employed 32…well, now I’m not so sure.

    The problem is, while your kid is playing, everyone else’s kid is preparing for Harvard. That means that when your child reaches high school — oh, let’s get real: make that middle school — he or she has fallen behind. While other kids have been taking music lessons, art lessons, language lessons, math tutoring, deportment, dance, archery, whatEVER and ANYever, your kid has been playing. And by the time your kid reaches about middle school, he or she doesn’t have a shot at catching up.

    If you don’t mind having your child go to a mediocre public university or buying him in, with your own wealth, to a private liberal arts school that will prepare him to be genteelly unemployed, better forget “play.” Life is not play. Sadly enough.

    And the Montessori approach, which is what we might call directed play, does not prepare children for life that is not play. I speak from experience. ;-)

  • http://funny-about-money.com Funny about Money

    Correction: Make that “Unless you don’t mind”…

  • http://www.unscriptedlife.com Ivy

    I agree. Traditional schooling does in many ways suck out a kid’s creativity. It’s easy enough to lose your ability to imagine as a kid. The toys move themselves, the games are directed by the storylines of tv shows… we never had to worry about that stuff as kids. I’m in my late 20s and I can remember not having a lot of kids shows around with real dialogue (think Tom and Jerry/Roadrunner).

    I think there are so many life skills to be gained from good old fashioned play.

  • http://www.findsavings.com FindSavings

    I agree with you on the play part of schooling. I think we are forcing numbers and letters down their throats too early. Therefore, they are not learning other important life skills or creativity. There was a great piece on this from 60 minutes. Just another opinion from a mom. Everyone does what they like. Nice post!

  • http://www.askthewealthsquad.com/blog/ Creating Wealth

    Remember the purpose behind our public school systems (and the teaching methods that have developed around them). They weren’t designed to develop creative people nor people who thrived on challenge and new experiences.

    They were specifically created to be able to churn out people who could handle repetitive tasks in a competent fashion. The industrial revolution demanded a reasonably educated task force that could survive a monotonous environment.

    Now that things have changed dramatically, our education methods need to change as well. Unfortunately governments change very slowly.

    Even most private schools follow the same systems as public schools because they do get audited by government groups.

    It is one reason that parental involvement is so critical. We have to take responsibility for our kids education (beyond what they do or don’t learn in school)

    You could always teach a course on accounting to small business owners. Record it and sell it online. :)