The Accounting Historians Journal Vol. 19, No. 1 June 1992
and Ramy Elitzur UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO
USING HISTORICAL ANNUAL REPORTS IN TEACHING: LETTING THE PAST BENEFIT THE PRESENT
Abstract: In this article, it is suggested that accounting education may be enhanced by the use of published historical accounting materials, such as annual reports. Comparing such materials with modern re-ports serves to reinforce the notion that accounting evolves in re-sponse to environmental change. Further, requiring students to ana-lytically derive cash flow statements from historical published annual reports provides several direct pedagogical benefits.
Accounting educators have been urged to make their courses more intellectually appealing to students, and to thus contribute to education in a broad, liberal sense [Koeppen, 1990]. Critics admonish accounting instructors for ignoring stu-dents' cognitive development [Amernic and Beechy, 1984], for teaching financial accounting as a set of rules and authoritative pronouncements [Zeff, 1979; Frakes, 1983], and for ignoring the real environment within which accounting is done [Chambers, 1987; Amernic, 1985]. The purpose of this article is to suggest that accounting educators may fruitfully draw upon relatively accessible historical accounting materials as a partial means of achieving educational goals and dealing with the concerns of various critics.
With the expansion of accounting's technical body of knowledge, accounting history has tended to be ignored by ac-counting educators [see Bloom and Collins, 1988; and Zeff, 1989].1 Zeff [1989, p. 204] asserts that "[a]bove all, a historical
Acknowledgment: The support of Doane, Raymond Pannell, Chartered Ac-countants, is gratefully appreciated by the first author.
'Some material emphasizing historical accounting documents in teaching has been published, but the quantity is scant. For an example, see Johnson .