Published on: January 7, 2016
This commentary is available as both text and video; enjoy both or either ... they are similar, but not exactly the same. To see past FaceTime commentaries, go to the MNB Channel on YouTube.
Hi, Kevin Coupe here, and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
On Tuesday, while in the Sunshine State to give a speech, I had the opportunity to visit the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville. I was there for a specific and highly pleasurable reason: to teach one session of a class that is using the book that Michael Sansolo and I co-wrote - "The Big Picture: Essential Business Lessons from the Movies" - as a textbook.
That's not as crazy as it sounds. It is actually part of a number of honors classes taught at the University of Florida, all around the concept of "uncommon reading." The idea is to create classes in which students will be challenged in different ways, forced to look at issues from different angles, and think about the world from different perspectives.
The students in the class that I taught will meet once a week for the entire semester to talk about the lessons from the book, and extrapolate from them to talk about how storytelling can be important in their lives and careers, fictional (and nonfictional) examples of ethical and unethical behavior and their ramifications, and what we all can learn from common mythologies that the movies offer us. While the book has a business focus, these kids weren't all business students - the class was a wonderful combination of really smart kids focused on law, medicine, entertainment, journalism and a bunch of other specialties.
When I found out that Dr. Allen Wysocki had created the class, I made sure that I worked a trip to Gainesville into my schedule ... and I'm going to do it again this semester if I can make it work. There's nothing like the charge you get from hanging out with smart kids.
There's also a business lesson to take from this. In business and in education, we sometimes get so focused on specific issues and challenges that we forget to pay attention to the world around us, to get a continuing education in the broadest sense of those words. I feel really good about what the University of Florida is doing here - making sure that students are going beyond themselves and their major concerns to think about the world in different ways. That's good stuff.
By the way ... I was remembering that, in fact, there was a movie that offered this same lesson. An otherwise forgettable 1983 film called Man, Woman and Child had Martin Sheen playing a college professor who is confronted by a physics major who is dropping his Shakespeare class because he's concerned that he won't excel in it, which will hurt his chances of getting a job as a nuclear researcher. Sheen's character tells the kid that as long as he takes the class, relaxes and enjoys it, he'll guarantee him an A - because "I will personally feel a hell of a lot safer knowing that there is a physicist out there who has read some Shakespeare." (It isn't a memorable movie, and mostly was an attempt to cash in on a novel written by Erich Segal after his "Love Story" hit. But somehow this scene as stuck with me for all these years ... and it has sort of informed my entire approach to writing and, lately, teaching.)
It isn't just universities that ought to do things like this. It also is businesses, that ought to provide opportunities for people to be exposed to many different disciplines ... they'll end up more experienced, smarter, and might even provide some innovative ideas along the way that others might not have seen.
So hats off to Dr. Allen Wysocki and the University of Florida ... and to those students, who I hope I'll get a chance to see again this semester.
That's what's on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: