B picpleasureteam note: We’re continuing our series of interviews with educators in various disciplines and positions. We hope to learn how the pleasures in learning that we’ve identified fit into their work. Maybe we’ll find some new pleasures to add to our list. Brian offers us an interesting post to get us back on track.

It dawned on me in 2008 that college students want to increase their potential to earn money, but they don’t necessarily see school as a place for money handling lessons, which is why I assign one research theme in English 101 on a financial topic. Money made but not managed is money not maintained. Therefore, students choose one area to focus on: budgeting, credit card use, or investing.

Naturally when I learned that our technical program faculty member, Stuart Zieman, teaches a course in the community named “Financial Peace University,” I asked him for an interview, and this blog contains the questions plus his generous responses.


Money (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)

What kind of sensory pleasures does the course use to increase student engagement?

Stuart: The course is a Dave Ramsey course, and his web site is A facilitator in a community uses Dave’s carefully prepared and polished videos and workbook. Polished means that he has done everything to make it a smooth, enjoyable presentation without bumps and gaps, or the rough spots that extemporaneous presentations usually have. Dave is blunt on the radio because a lot of callers try to trick him, but in the course, he creates a strong visual effect, and this goes together with testimonials and a workbook.

Is there an element of surprise that students in the course experience?

Stuart: Yes, at some point, students have an “aha moment” when it starts to dawn on them, “I can’t do things anymore the way I’ve been doing them. I need help.” Then when they see how fact based and simple the principles are, they think, “Why didn’t I see this before?” They are so relieved and excited.

Stuart and Dave Ramsey

Stuart and Dave Ramsey

Does the course employ any humor?

Stuart: Oh yes. Dave Ramsey is a great speaker and orator. He uses sarcasm but not in a malicious way. He gets you to laugh at yourself. He also uses funny illustrations like the “Shopping Barbie.” MasterCard paid for the marketing for “Shopping Barbie” because research shows that you will keep your first credit card longer than any other. Since it was your first credit card, there is a sense of loyalty and branding.

How do students get a sense of achievable challenge?

Stuart: They can get some success going right away. The average person coming into the course pays off $5300 in debt and saves $2700 within the first 90 days. This builds needed momentum, and it’s gratifying to pay off that first credit card or other debt of some kind, especially since many students come in deep in debt and discouraged. But it’s also true that not everybody who takes the course is in debt. Some wealthy people take the course to learn how to manage their money. They may have come into wealth quickly and not know how to manage it.

Is there a sense of belonging to a group?

Stuart: A group usually has three to six couples though individuals can also take the course. For most, this is their first time ever talking about their money problems with others. It creates a special bond and the sense of “We’re all in the same boat.” It’s a real teambuilding experience, and many long-term friendships are byproducts of the class.

Stuart with his wife Alicia

Stuart with his wife Alicia

What concept of owning something of value is emphasized?

We think we value money, but when we learn how to manage money, we then truly value it. Look at how we’ve wasted money; that’s not valuing it. Part of valuing money is what Dave Ramsey calls “telling your money what to do instead of your money dictating to you what to do.” The idea is to get all of your money working for you.

That sounds like it leads to autonomy.

Stuart: It does, and the test of autonomy comes after the nine weeks of the course is over. During the course there is a sense of accountability because everyone is participating and sharing together in the course, but when the course is over, it’s your money. No one can tell you what to do with peace

After the interview, Stuart sat back in his chair and squeezed a green tennis ball as we chatted. I thanked him for the interview.  By the way, he did a Professional Development workshop on money management last spring at the college, and it was a well-attended 50 minute pump primer. If you want to know about how to take the course in your geographical area, look on and check it out.



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