Saturday, July 29, 2006

What the Education System Lacks

The Man, my dear husband, has some earnestly-held opinions on the education system. I'd tell him to write a book on the subject, but it's already been written, I think, by this guy - Robert Kiyosaki . The book, as I recall, relates the story of two men - one a very well-educated 'worker' who knew only how to work for money, and the other a man of more humble beginnings who figured out how to make money work for him.

Finance is a favourite topic of my husband's. He thinks that there is a serious failure in the current system of education in that they do not routinely teach Economics. This has an end result of merely creating an endless supply of 'worker bees'. Perhaps there is little incentive to teach people to be 'capitalists' because business needs workers.

It's all very well and good to get a wonderful education, to achieve upper-level employment, but there's more to do! We need to educate our children about conserving and investing. Peter suggests that we should teach children to look at wages as 'tools'. A workman couldn't do his job without tools and the first thing any worker needs to do is to start collecting the tools necessary to be a capitalist. It doesn't matter what the employment, something should be put aside to build for the future. If it feels nearly impossible to do, then it is all the more important to get started early!

Every elementary school, every middle school and every high school should have mandatory courses in Investing rather than Algebra, Trigonometry and the like. The average student does not require advanced training in mathematics, but every student needs to learn basic money management! Can you imagine how very useful such training would be? It's not taught now because no one has taught the teachers. I think it is time we demand it, though, for the sake of our children.


At 2:53 AM, Blogger Minx said...

Duck - here comes a rant!!

'No one is teaching the teachers' - yes this may be correct but don't forget that most teachers, and I presume that it is the same in Canada, are tied up in what the government expect, sats stats etc.
We are churning out new teachers who are still only children themselves, who cannot pass on the lifeskills they haven't got and who are ill-equipped to deal with the pressures that face them.

Until this changes there will be nothing done to replace this stilted and overbearing system that produces these 'worker bees'. We do not need to teach children how to manage their money, how to invest and conserve etc. What we need to teach is a love of life, an interest in their planet, a respect for fellow human beings, a want to learn - ideals will follow along shortly.

I am lucky enough to be part of the teaching system that can still duck under the National Curriculum radar. We can imbue our children with this want to learn, a need to progress, a longing to be the best that they can be. As soon as they enter the mainsteam system this will be lost, along with a love of learning, replaced with pressure to maintain national numbers.
Money is not a driving force in the young, spark the imagination and you have a chance to move a nation!

The 'tools of the trade' are knowledge and understanding of selfworth, pride and compassion. If we churned out a nation of capatalists where would we be in ten years time?

I agree, children should be offered more life skills and these should be built into the curriculum but we cannot ignore the barren desert that we find ourselves in in the creative department.

There is expectation on all, teachers, parents and children - when are we going to realise that we are all individuals, wildly different, and should be valued as such. No boxes to tick, no reams of paperwork that say nothing of a child's potential in this world. How can we expect them to look after their money when they have never been shown the basic economics of everyday life?

Sorry Susan, this subject is very close to my heart - can you tell?

At 7:51 AM, Blogger Maxine said...

Susan, I always think there is no point in teaching economics in universities, let alone schools, because they always get it wrong. How many times have economic advisers got it wrong, caused inflation, deflation, depression, reflation----- at least if they know maths they understand how to manipulate numbers, you can't get maths wrong but you sure as heck can get economics wrong!
Economists spend all their time arguing with each other about economic theory and who is right/wrong even about what stage of the economic "cycle" we are in, they are a load of squabblers (earning far too much money compared with teachers -- if it was the other way round, then the teachers would be the best and the economists would have a better grounding for their predictions).

I think the economy is just too big for anyone to be able to understand it and predict it. Or, if I am wrong, point me to someone who does it well (as opposed to making money out of writing books about it and getting rich in the process ;-) ).

I am a fan of Maths, becuase it is solid. I am a fan of Statistics, because it is precise if you understand it and apply the right test (very few do). I am not a fan of economics because it is a Black Art, which barely any of its practitioners will admit, instead they try to make out that things are definite, whereas time and time again events prove them wrong in that respect.

At 7:54 AM, Blogger Maxine said...

PS There is a very old joke, or maybe it isn't a joke, that the difference between a US and a UK education is that when someone leaves a US high school they know how to sue someone, how to set up a business, and how to take out a contract on someone. Whereas in the UK they leave high school understanding Shakespeare, pi and the Irish Question. This is, of course, pre-national curriculum and I do not know on which side of the line one would place Canada!

At 1:28 PM, Blogger Minx said...

And Susan, guess what, guess what?

Your Billiken blew up the hoover!

Thank you , thank you, thank you!!!!!

At 1:45 PM, Blogger Susan said...

It looks like I found a touchy topic! I appreciate your comments, Minx and Maxine, and I realize that I should have labelled the 'deficiency' in the school system as a 'lifeskills' deficiency rather than a failure to produce a new generation of Alan Greenspans. I agree, Maxine, economics is a very shaky 'science' at best.

I have great admiration for good teachers, Minx and I am certainly not faulting individuals. I believe, however, that Peter is correct when he says children would be better served learning some basic life skills such as money management and investing rather than being forced to study a level of mathematics which most of them will never use.

Perhaps I didn't absorb the full content of your very interesting reply, Minx - I'm going to read it a couple more times to be sure I understand your meaning - but my take on it at this point is that we are in fundamental agreement.

I won't deny the validity of your comment either, Maxine! I love the simplicity of mathematics. Except at the most arcane level mathematics is one of the few subjects that really is all 'black and white', 'right is right and wrong is wrong'. I don't agree with your take on statistics though! Statistics are far too malleable to be reliable. I like Mark Twain's comment - "There are three kinds of lies -- lies, Damned Lies and STATISTICS!"

Minx - how did it work that my Billiken blew up your hoover?! I need to know how to make him work his wonders on the washing machine!

At 4:19 PM, Anonymous skint writer said...

I'm afraid I'm with Minx on this one Susan - if human beings learned how to be good human beings then who gives a toss about money and all that crap - money and its power in the world is a reality I know and maybe you've got a point if that's all there was.

Life is so much more than financial security - and anyway it's only a small percentage of the world's population who have a hope in hell of becoming financially secure.

At 5:42 PM, Blogger Susan said...

We can't look after the whole world though, Skint, no matter how much we would wish to! We can only look after our own children and my point is that in this jungle that is life we need to point out the best roots and berries to our offspring. We can also teach them that when they are secure enough to ensure their own survival then they should certainly be good citizens and share with the less successful hunter/gatherer. I would far rather that a few 'fat cats' stayed out of the hardscrabble hunt. Fact is, everyone becomes more successful that way and we are then able to focus on the things that really ARE far more important than money or power. I haven't really been talking about 'money' here anyway...I've been talking about the freedom of choice that prudent money MANAGEMENT allows. The person who is forever struggling deserves to move beyond the struggle and it is possible to do that.

At 12:26 AM, Blogger Minx said...

Then this is up to us as parents - to suggest which berries and roots are best. Not a fault of the education system.

When the Feckers were very young we were tavelling in the car and talking about what they wanted to do in life.

"I'm going to be an archeologist when I grow up," Big Fecker said "I'm going to dig up the bones of dinosaurs and take them to museums. I shall be famous and make loads of money and everyone will know me."

Small Fecker piped up from the back -"Yes, and I'm going to be an ice cream man and I'll be really happy."

I know which one I would go for!

At 1:09 AM, Anonymous clare said...

A very interesting discussion, Susan, thanks for starting this one. However I'm afraid I'm with Minx, Maxine and Skint - I'm very much for the idea of education for education's sake.

I shan't add to what they've said because I think they've put it all so well. But I do take your point on money management. I'm sure that would be a useful thing for children to learn - put in the context of what else you've said - a consideration of what it takes to be a good and worthy human-being.

At 2:57 PM, Blogger Maxine said...

My children seem pretty good at money management without having learned it at school. We give them pocket money into a savings account each month (only a very little), they can draw it out when they want something.
However, they never spend it, it accumulates. And they seem to have things.
Wonder how they manage it? ;-)

PS And on statistics, it is a very accurate subject. The problem is, not many people know how to use it properly. Hence the Twain quote. Very few people (myself included) properly understand confidence limits, whether to use a one- or two-tailed statistical test in a given situation, what standard error or standard deviation means, etc. But they are all precise concepts and tell you things, if you use them right.

Very interesting discussion in the comments on this post (and the post) -- thanks for the further details, Susan.


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