Why I Love Teaching
Here I am near the ten-year mark as an instructor for Bellarmine University. This has been one of the highlights and greatest privileges of my life and professional career. As I tend to be a bit reflective anyway, I found myself pondering some of the reasons for, and implications of why I love teaching so much. Here’s the short list of some of my conclusions.
Teaching introduces me to some really wonderful people. I have taught across all of the major community groups of the university from the undergrads (the youngsters as I only somewhat affectionately call them) to the graduates, as well as many enrichment courses in conjunction with the community outreach mission of the school. I have met many dedicated professionals who return to the rigor of the classroom in an effort to advance their careers and the interests of those they serve. I am humbled to have played a minor role in their development. I have enjoyed the company of, and classroom contributions of hundreds of active senior adults who bring untold richness into the learning environment and have blessed me far more than I have enriched them.
Teaching helps me in my own personal quest for lifelong learning. I don’t seem to find contentment in a set, stagnant curriculum. I am constantly reading, researching, traveling and attending conferences in a passionate effort to keep abreast of the latest trends in the very big world of global finance. I want the classroom to be fresh and applicable to daily life. We might cover everything from the latest academic thinking on 100-year-old portfolio theory to an article that appeared in the media the morning of class. This helps keeps things interesting, fun, exciting, and applicable.
Teaching helps me be a better advisor. (I hope.) In my opinion, the model used by much of the financial services industry is greatly flawed—gather some facts, do some analysis, and make some changes. I enjoy taking the same approach in professional practice that I do in the classroom. I would be dead-in-the-water in either setting without a white board and the ability to stand up, move around, waive my arms a bit, and make a passionate connection with the learner. I believe that all people are fully capable of making sound decisions, even in the complex world of high finance, if they are completely informed and can clearly grasp the implications of the choices the face.
Lastly, teaching puts a “bounce in my step”. It really charges me up. Those who know me best know that I suffer a bit from chronic health from time to time. Even if I walk into the classroom not firing on all cylinders, from the moment I begin to teach a huge shot of adrenaline kicks in and I’m off and running. I’ve only experienced the so-called “Runners High” a few times in my life (trust me—a very few times!), but I get a “Teachers High” every time class begins. At my age, I’ll take a legal high anywhere I can get one!
So, there you have it—some quick thoughts on my love affair with teaching. Trust me, this comes from a very grateful and humble heart which hopes it will continue to have this incredible honor well into the future.
Stephen L. Franklin, M.B.A., M.Div., M.R.E., CFP®, RICP®, CEP®, CFS