Subtract boredom

Let’s face it: accounting is not an easy subject to teach. It requires students to learn some fairly rigid rules related to concepts that are difficult to illustrate.

How, for instance, does one describe liabilities to a 16-year-old in rural North West Province? Not that city kids have much more understanding, but they interact with business – if only in the form of shopping malls and KFC outlets – more than children who live at the end of 60km of sand road.

Even adults with business experience struggle with principles such as when and how to post certain items to ledgers, which ledgers to use and how one ledger links to another, to the balance sheet and to the income statement.

So, as a former accounting teacher, my first tip is to use computerised teaching in conjunction with the manual method where possible. Not only will you make your own life easier, you will find your learners actually enjoy learning about owner’s equity, depreciation, inventory and other arcane things that make the business world tick.

Tip number two: let the educational accounting software do the donkey work for you. Let go of the need to get involved in the administrative detail. Computers are superb at automating routine and repetitive tasks. That allows you to focus on your real job: opening and preparing young people’s minds for the opportunities that await them in the world of work.

If you get the right kind of educational accounting software, such as that offered by the Pastel Certified School Program, it will be fully aligned with the national curriculum and will map out a scheme of work that will ensure you meet all the necessary deadlines during the year.

That saves you time in planning. But things get even better.

The right kind of educational accounting software will also be self-marking. Which means that you will have, at the end of each lesson, a full set of objective marks for each learner without having had to take out a single red pen or heft a pile of books home.

You’re probably already screaming: “Gimme some of that!” But hang on, there’s more.

Because of the animation, full-colour illustrations and the interactive fun of using a mouse, children learn much faster and more willingly from computers than chalk boards. So properly designed educational accounting software should get you through the curriculum in as little as half the time allocated by the department of education.

That means that you can revise the work in the remaining time until you know that each and every learner is going to sail through the exams.

Educational software, if designed by teachers for teachers, will also solve the perennial problem of trying to teach fast and slow learners in the same class without neglecting the slow ones or boring the fast ones.

To give you an example of how this is possible, the software will monitor each learner, highlighting mistakes and allowing the learner to repeat an exercise, sometimes with new material. In many cases a learner can’t move on to the next exercise until the current one is completed correctly. This not only ensures that learners understand each section thoroughly, but also enables them to pace themselves during a lesson. The marks allocated by the system will reflect the final result achieved.

In other words, the fast learners can move at a speed that keeps them challenged and therefore interested, allowing you to give your attention where it is needed most.

If I may offer one last tip: don’t use computer-based training simply as a visual aid that you add on to what you have always done. Get out of its way and let it do what it does best so that you can do what you do best.

Perdick Mzizi taught accounting at a Germiston high school for 10 years, six of them as head of department. Softline Pastel, the developer of South Africa’s most popular accounting software, asked Mzizi to help create educational accounting software that could be distributed to schools free of charge. He is now responsible, on behalf of Pastel, for training teachers to use the software – also for free. For more information about the program, contact the Pastel training department on 011 304 3670 or email [email protected]

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