Financial Education isn’t failing us – it just doesn’t exist.
I was giving a talk to a group of uni students the other day at UNSW and it got me thinking about how well we teach our kids (and ourselves for that matter) about money.
Now, I’m going to get a little philosophical here, but I’m SERIOUSLY passionate about financial education. Any education actually – but to be frank, I don’t think much of the current system of delivery.
I’m a huge TED Talk fan, and if anyone is interested in some really insightful views on education, look up Ken Robinson. If he doesn’t ignite some thinking, go hide under a rock.
So, at school, we’re being educated – partly so we can participate in society, however mainly so that one day we can get a job and be useful and valuable employees. We then may do a trade or go to uni – the focus here is even more so getting prepared to enter the workforce.
We then get a job.
We do this for 8-10 hours per day
5 days a week
48-51 weeks a year
Until we’re seriously old. Ok, not that old, but give or take, 60’s, even 70’s.
We spend more time at work, presumably working than we do:
With our families and loved ones
And why do we work? To earn money. Why do we need money? To live.
There you have it – we have produced our primary function in life to earning money. More time, energy and effort goes into earning money than ANYTHING YOU’LL DO IN LIFE.
So, at what point do we access education about what to do with that money? Never. We have to get it ourselves, if we ever realise that it’s something that we should be doing. While it’s not a nice notion to consider that we spend so much time earning money, it’s a big part of our lives.
There is a lot of data out there that shows we’ve had an increasing quality of living for many many decades. What they don’t take into consideration, however, is that we’re working longer and harder. We used to have a lot of single income families – now, both parents often work. We’re working more – you would expect that we’ve got increasing quality of material life. I’m not quite sure, however, if life itself has actually improved as much as the economists say it has.
There are numerous tools out there to help us learn, thousands of professionals. Games for kids, apps, videos – everything. But, knowing the capital of Botswana is given higher priority in the education system than helping kids understand how money works. Most people will not go to Botswana. Most people will, however, earn an income.
I’m going to see if I can do something about this… the best thing, however, is if you try and do something about this too. If we all try a little harder, maybe we’ll genuinely create a better life for our kids.