S4E30. Making Accounting Education Accessible & Fun with Toby York

Do you think accounting can be fun? Is there a way to make it less boring and more engaging? Do you believe that learning accounting is easy and something everyone should do?

Toby York wants to see if he can change your mindset around those questions. He’s not your typical accounting instructor. He’s the founder of Accounting Cafe, a community for anybody who believes that accounting education can be an engaging and enjoyable experience for teachers and learners alike. He’s a senior lecturer at Middlesex University Business School, teaching Entrepreneurial Finance and Financial Accounting, and is an accredited Color Accounting trainer as well as an advisor to the Color Accounting Foundation.

We’ve been teaching accounting as a functional skill in the same way since the ‘70s. And people weren’t taught to understand why things were the way that they were – just to do them the way that way. Toby found this approach so frustrating while he was teaching accounting that he started looking for a new approach to teaching entry level accounting. 

When it comes to accounting, learning it well requires a certain level of enthusiasm – and that’s a problem, because so many people view accounting as something boring and tedious. We need to bring the spark back. It’s one of the most important social technologies we’ve ever developed and, even moreso, financial statements tell stories. If we can think of it in terms of storytelling, doesn’t that make the whole thing that much more exciting?

If you don’t really understand accounting and financial statements, you can’t ask the right questions. You won’t even know if you’re in good financial shape or bad financial shape. And you won’t know what to do to make it better.

An understanding of accounting is vital to so much of what we do in the modern world, and it’s really not that hard to grasp. We need to stop gatekeeping with obfuscating terminology and start making this profession and this information accessible to everyone. Part of that is making it fun, which is possible.

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