Stevenson's Introductory Bookkeeping

Stevenson's Introductory Bookkeeping

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Excerpt from Stevenson's Introductory Bookkeeping: Text-Book on Accounting, for Public Schools, Academies, Normal Schools, and Teachers Institutes

This book is the result of years of teaching, and is fresh from the class-room. It is based upon the idea that the student should be taught to be a thinking, acting being, rather than an automaton, performing certain processes by rule. As a branch of mathematics, bookkeeping should train the reasoning powers, and be productive of acuteness, method, accuracy, and speed. As a department of political economy, bookkeeping should direct the thought of the pupil to those great human activities in trade, commerce and accumulation which are such important elements in the happiness and well-being of the world.

Mathematics is generally regarded as an abstruse and theoretical subject, yet it is applied in all the business activities of life. Too often men of high scholastic attainments discover that they lack the first principles of business success. They have given no attention to business customs and usages, and are helpless in their business affairs. Bookkeeping combines much of business usage with the application of mathematical principles, and gives an opportunity to the teacher to shape to a very great extent the future business tendencies of the student. No one in any walk of life can afford to be without a record of his business dealings. Books to a business are as necessary as chart and compass to a sailor. He who does without a systematic set of books is unwise, and the day will probably come when he will regret most bitterly his lack of foresight and business prudence.

The author believes that a study of business principles is a moral training, as great if not greater than much which is popularly so considered. Right relations between individuals lead to true moral insight and right moral dispositions. It is a deplorable fact that it is easier to find teachers for the young and preachers for the people than to find men who, in financial matters, are reliable and trustworthy. Practical honesty is too rare a virtue, and the worst of it is that the classes who stand highest in the public esteem as exemplars of the moral virtues are often the most lax and uncertain in their ideas of duty to their fellow men in matters of dollars and cents, and too often it is very hard to get them to pay their current bills, and harder yet to arouse a sense of responsibility for their older debts. Too many people called good, and who really are good in many respects, have a way of unconsciously regarding borrowed money or goods purchased on credit as a distinct gain instead of the basis of a solemn obligation. The teacher of bookkeeping has an opportunity to teach honesty without the students knowing it, for he who is systematic, accurate and prompt is quite likely to be industrious, and the industrious are seldom dishonest.

Most American boys begin and end life by spending their earnings as they go. Our boys, when placed side by side with the German, the Jew and other immigrant boys, are too often pushed to one side in the struggle. Hence foreigners pronounce us a spendthrift nation, and the evidence seems to support their assertion. It is fully time now that the schoolboy should be taught and made to understand that it is not what a man earns, but what he saves, that will raise him to a competency.

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