Friday, 8 February 2013

Will Kids Benefit from Learning Finances at School?

The Government has announced that financial education will be added to the National Curriculum for secondary school children from 2014. Younger students will be taught the basics of money and budgeting, whilst GCSE age teens will be taught about credit and financial risk, amongst other things.

Whilst I suppose this is a step in the right direction, I can't help thinking that it will go in one ear and out the other. I remember the citizenship classes being, for the most part, extremely dull. You sit reading about various laws and how they apply to you, whilst the teacher sits disinterested at the front, usually doing some marking! (Maybe that was just my school? Anyone have a better experience?)

Contrast this education in responsibility with the rest of the teenager's life; iPhones, Playstations, fashion magazines, movies, etc. Everything's a lot more exciting with the latest gadgets and trends. My friends and I used to go to the cinema pretty much every weekend as teenagers. Will today's students want to miss out on the fun just because their budget tells them to?

I know that the purpose of this education is to prepare them for their futures rather than to make teenagers live frugally, but I don't think they will really take in this theoretical knowledge until they actually need to use it, for example when they get their first job. Perhaps it's a good idea to introduce the concept of saving and living below your means, so that it's still kicking around in their conscious when it is needed in practise.

I think people learn by example, so if they see parents, siblings and friends living the high life by flashing the plastic they'll be more likely to do the same. Where possible, I think parents would be by far the best educators in finance for their kids because they're able to practically teach them about saving as a requisite of receiving an allowance.

What do you think? I don't think it's a BAD idea, I think I'm just a bit cynical! If I had been more financially aware, I would have budgeted saving for an emergency fund rather than just trying to avoid my overdraft! Do let me know what you think - I'd love to hear some opinions!


heleng said...

I agree about people learning by example...but also by experience. My mum always lived on a very, very tight budget but when I got older and had my own money it got frittered away on the usual stuff like make up, clothes, nights out etc. Its after I had a family and had to make little money go round that I started to take on board some of her advice, and now, although I still sometimes spend on frivolous things, I mostly love looking for bargains and trying to see how thrifty I can be. I find that my own teens and 20s are also pretty free with their money, but the older ones are starting to realise they have to save for what they want are doing some of their own bargain-hunting and asking my advice. At least they know where to come. LOL! I think you are doing an excellent job and its lovely to see someone young who is being so responsible. I'm sure you'll reap the benefits when you are older and well-prepared for whatever financial situation arises. Keep up the good work.

Meanqueen said...

I think it's basically a good idea, but it should be taught in junior school from about the age of six. The earlier the better. But unfortunately for a lot of kids, it's the parents who let the kids down, and the schools who get the flack for not doing enough to help them, and that's the same for every subject.

Frugal Living UK said...

I too think that basically it is a good idea, BUT, as has already been pointed out, the example set by parents would go far further. It should really be the parents job to arm the child with knowledge about money and credit and simply the value of 'stuff' and I suspect it will just become yet another lesson in an overworked curriculum. My neices and nephews both left junior school with very dubious maths and english skills and I am sure that this is because of an overworked curriculum, how can you understand the concept of money if your maths is terrible? Sometimes I think that the parents just dump the responsibility of things that should be traditionally taught at home onto the school and then complain about it. In a nutshell - good in principle.

lizzie said...

Well, managing money is a life skill and it probably cant hurt to teach it.
Here in the States we teach our youngsters to drive at school, most of our 16 year olds can drive, drivers ed it is called and it is a class just like any other, includes classroom and behind the wheel.
They also have sex education so why not money management.
Have they stopped home ec in the u.k. - that would be something to bring back too.

Emma Watts said...

I remember opening a bank account through the school. For every deposit I made (pennies at the time) my mum would invest the same. When I was 16 I opened a post office book and deposited 20 o/o of my small weekly income. I didn't question it at the time, 20 % savings, 20 % board, 20 % clothing fund, 20 % going out and the remainder as I pleased. Stood me in good stead. At 14 both of my lovies got a Saturday job and have worked ever since. No pocket money past 14 in this house. They have learnt to save for what they want and question when they have saved the right amount if they really want the item. Parental responsilibity is where it's at and reinforcement through enducation makes us sound plausible to the doubters.

saving for travel said...

Been poorly all week so I missed the end of your £1 a challenge. Have caught up now and just wanted to say a HUGE well done for what you and your mum achieved.

So proud of you.

Sft x

Astra said...

I wasn't sure on my view really but then I though what about all the kids who's parents do a totally crappy job pf preparing them to deal with money, surly those kids would benefit to learn the basics? I know my son (lol funny saying that since he's not even born yet!!) will not be needing money advise from school - its far to important for it not to be part of what we teach him - by example and guidance. Knowing the value of money is massively important to get the balance of your life right I think (and I mean that in the way that, in a way, money is NOT important and in other ways it is... if that makes any sense? lol)

Kearnygirl said...

When I was in school, all we learned was how to use a checkbook and how to write a check mainly. We could have used some proper budget accounting or shown how to make a budget at least. My mother always had the envelope system for her bills and I started out that way too. I was not so good with money when I got my first job however. Too young to realize that I should be saving part of it and not spend every last cent every paycheck. Anyway, I think kids should learn these things from home and school but don't think the school should really be responsible totally.

cumbrian said...

Good in theory.
Some students will benefit from it and some won't.
It's one of those subjects that's easy to teach but sometimes a bit harder to put into practice.

Sol said...

Lol I posted about this the other day. But I didn't know it actually was coming in to effect. Good I say. Where the parents aren't teaching children they will at least have some knowledge. Thinks like APR still bamboozle me sometimes.


Andrea@Familyconnect said...

I head up the PSHE department in a secondary school, and finances make up a sizeable chunk of the curriculum time. It's useful, but limited. I don't think for a moment that what we teach in school as anything like the kind of influence that some people imagine!