I’m not sure if you have noticed or not, but the majority of people these days don’t understand even the basics of money management. I always assumed that most people had an upbringing similar to myself, however, it seems like that isn’t the case. Many parents leave 100% of their child’s education up to the school system, including teaching their kids about money.
Let’s take a look at the school system that I went through here in Australia and see if you guys can come to the same conclusion that I have recently come to.
Primary school here in Australia goes from years 1 to 7 (at least it did when I went through. I think it did change recently though). The subjects you learn about and are assessed on each year include:
Years 1 – 7
- Language Arts
- Number Study
- Problem Solving
- Operations (Sums)
- Spatial Knowledge
- Social Studies
- Physical Education
- Second Language (years 6 and 7)
Secondary School / High School
High school is only 5 years, with grades 8 through 10 covering quite a few subjects, and grades 11 and 12 being more specific, with the only mandatory subjects being English and at least 1 math subject.
- Second Language
- Study of Society
- Human Relations
- Home Economics (food, sewing etc.).
- Physical Education
Years 9 & 10
- Food Studies
- Study of Society
- Product & Design Technology (wood work/shop)
Years 11 & 12
There are a lot more subjects to select from with students having to select English, Math and 4 electives. My selections are below.
- Mathematics (Could select Math A – Easy, B – Medium or C – Difficult)
So what do you see above? Can you see the same problem that I can see? No?
well i’ll tell you – There is no money subject.
Think about that for a minute.
12 years of education, and not a single subject dedicated to money. It’s not like you have to use money every single day of your life, or need to understand how to manage it in order to cater for your retirement, oh, hang on a minute, that’s exactly what you have to do – whoops…
To put things into perspective. Throughout primary school I had 7 years of Science, Art, Music and 2 full years of subjects dedicated to learning how to speak a second language. Money on the other hand was a subset of mathematics, and not even a core subset at that.
As an adult (and this goes for most adults) I have almost no need to understand how to read music, play the recorder, paint a picture, understand the difference between primary and secondary colors, know that the symbol K on the periodic table is the element Potassium or be able to say “would you like fries with that?” in German (Möchten Sie Pommes dazu?).
What I do need to be able to do, is understand money and all the different principals that come with it. My fellow classmates and I would have been far better served having an understanding of wealth, investments, risk, savings, retirement, insurance, good debt, bad debt, depreciation, income, diversification strategies, budgets, expenses, interest, compound interest, asset valuations, money creation, economics and all the rest of the things I talk about on this blog. Instead, we scratched the surface on a few topics like compound interest as a part of general math, and that was it.
Now I am all for learning about Science, Music, Art and other languages, but they should be secondary to money, which is so fundamentally important in our society. I would wager that less than 1% of the population go on to be Scientists, Artists or Musicians, but those 3 subjects all get significantly more teaching time than money, yet money impacts 99.99% of the population and lack of understanding can cause things like marriage breakdowns, crime, bankruptcies, inequality and a raft of other societal issues that no one wants to see increase.
In my opinion, the “one size fits all” school system is broken, and I am firmly of the belief that my son and his generation (like my own) will be ill prepared for the world as adults when it comes to money management. Yes parents have a role to play in educating their children (and I am going to be all over this), but why is there such a chronic shortage of time allocated within the school system to something this important?