Teaching Philosophy

Teaching Philosophy
I don’t take myself too seriously, but I do take my obligations seriously. Teaching has
been called “The supremely moral act” and I think that there is something to that.
My goal for my students is that they will have the thorough grounding in the techniques
of financial analysis that will allow them to evaluate new situations in a reasoned way
and to be able to communicate their results effectively. It’s all about critical thinking and
communication. It’s not about memorizing equations.
By way of analogy, think of the set of plans for a building. Both an architect and a
draftsman can read the plans and even copy the plans with minor changes. But an
architect can do more than a draftsman. When it is time to design a completely new
building that responds creatively to the needs of the client and the context of the built and
natural environment, you want an architect. I am here to train financial architects—not
draftsmen. Don’t expect to learn a cookbook of formulas that you plug numbers in to.
Expect to learn a few simple, but powerful, intuitions and be able to apply them
creatively to a variety of new and interesting situations.
I see my obligation to the class as follows:
I will be absolutely explicit in my expectations. There will be no surprises in my course;
you won’t have to read my mind to do well. You will know ahead of time exactly what
you need to be able to do and the steps that I think will get you there.
I will be absolutely consistent in the way that I treat students, regardless of any outside
circumstance. The requirements for an “A” are the same for everybody.
I see my students’ obligations as:
Coming to every class prepared and on time. When I was an undergrad, I skipped one
class in four years. One. And that was for a job interview with NASA. I just cannot wrap
my brain around people that skip class and expect to do well.
By prepared I mean that you have satisfied the prerequisites for the class and have read
the book.
My favorite comment on a student evaluation is as follows:
“I really thought Dr. Stansfield was funny and made most of class interesting. As I listen to
other students complain about him I can never understand what they have to complain
about. Dr. Stansfield was ALWAYS upfront about ALL his expectations, the work wasn’t
hard if you came to class and used the online resources to study. I found this to be a good
class. I learned a lot. I hope at some point the students with negative attitudes realize that
Stansfield was fair and it’s their own fault they don’t enjoy finance.”