Guest speakers?

Posted: August 14, 2008 in Blogging, blogroll, Consumer Issues, education, Finance For Youth, Friends, Jobs, Life, Relationships, Working

I’m back. I’m still waiting to see how I did on those tests, but I was able to write approximately 30 essays and reports in roughly 30 days. Everybody at school told me it was impossible, but I like doing the impossible.

I had a couple conversations with some people during the break that really underscored the importance of F4Y, and solidified my commitment to making sure as many young people as possible learn strong financial fundamentals. I wanted to post them immediately, but there was too much work to do, and frankly both of these conversations blew my mind hole. It took a little bit of processing just to make sure that I was having the conversations I was having. Because I don’t want to throw too much at you at the same time, this week we will talk about a conversation I had with a co-worker, and next week we’ll deal with a big one I had with a family member.

CONVERSATION AT WORK

One of the girls at work asked me if, when I became a teacher, I would let her come to my class and present “financial education”. Never mind that part of what I want to accomplish as a teacher is to develop and implement a personal finance program, like F4Y, that can be included in the curriculum; never mind that much of what her presentation consists of is material that can already be found within F4Y; she wanted to come and present because all the other teachers in that department let her.

To be fair, there are reasons that the other teachers let her present to their classes:

  1. Doing so allows the teachers a day where they don’t have to plan lessons.
  2. Financial education is important, and many History teachers just aren’t as knowledgeable in that subject as they are in the subject(s) they teach, so they are grateful to any “professional” who is willing to step in and fill in the blanks.
  3. The school district that I will be doing my student teaching in has close, deep ties with the financial institution we both work at currently, and pressure was applied from above to allow her to present to the classes.
  4. To young people, she is easy on the eyes, and might even motivate some students to pay attention that ordinarily wouldn’t.
  5. It is important to occasionally break up the monotony of regular class time with something different. When I was in school, we would take short field-trips. Now, the field-trip comes to the school.

These are all fine reasons, but they aren’t enough for me. I am very leery about allowing her into my classroom.

  1. Since I am new, I have no need or desire to not have a lesson ready for every day that students are in school. I have something to prove to the school and the district.
  2. I happen to be well-versed and very knowledgeable about finance education, so I really don’t need anyone to come in and fill in the blanks for me. This is not to say that I am against having a guest speaker, but that speaker would have to know more about personal finance than I do, to make coming to my class worth my students’ time.
  3. I am worried that I might be forced into allowing her to talk to my students. Personally, I think there are better ways to present the same information than she is capable.
  4. Truth be told, she is pretty, but not pretty enough to justify disrupting my class. Besides, my wife is prettier, knows more about the subject, and has an “in” with the teacher.
  5. It is important to break up monotony, but if I am going to include guest speakers, I want to be able to choose them, give their topic the once-over to check for appropriateness, and make their presence meaningful to the overall unit we are studying at the time.
  6. Most importantly, as I’ve said many times, I do not agree with selling banks or credit unions to captive audiences. I have absolutely no intention of subjecting my students to a commercial for a specific bank or credit union
  7. Despite my reluctance to let her into my class, I didn’t immediately tell her that I would not allow her to present to my class. I am not vain enough to believe that I can tell my students everything they will need to hear while in my class. Having an occasional guest speaker might not be such a bad idea. I told her that she could present under a couple conditions: First, I had to see her presentation prior to her coming into my class, and second I would not allow her to come in to sell the bank we work at. The first sign of a sales pitch, and she would be escorted off campus. The first condition was because I want to know that any perspective guest speaker that comes into my class is an expert. I’m good at what I do. I expect no less for anybody I would want in my class. The second condition was because I have a feeling that she would indeed try to sell products in my classroom, and there is no way I will subject my students to that, no matter who tells me that I have too.

    Apparently, my conditions upset her. She felt that because we are friends, I should allow her carte blanche to do whatever she chooses with my students. I feel that since we are friends, she should have no problem with following my restrictions since I am ultimately responsible for my class. I feel bad that she is hurt, but I think “friends” need to make sure they aren’t asking other friends to put themselves in situations in which they feel uncomfortable. I’m good with my decision, but what do you think? Was I perhaps too hard on her, or should I possibly inviter her to class for a “Point, Counterpoint” where I challenge her to back up her claims while she is there? Or was I right to put the learning of my students before my friend’s desires to be important? I want to know.
    –Next week: “I have this plan to get married”

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