Financial education has been a part of secondary school curriculum since 2014 and whilst probably not a popular view, I have my doubts as to whether we should put this responsibility solely in the hands of children’s teachers.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of school apart from breaks, PE (depending on who the teacher was) and home time. Lessons for me were something that just got in the way of all the other stuff. I wasn’t disruptive and would get my head down and do what I needed to do.
The thing is, I didn’t see much use in some of my lessons. In my mind I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up and being made to take subjects that had no relevance to my plans for world domination just didn’t make sense.
The teachers that taught these subjects no doubt had a skill, knowledge and sometimes a passion for what they taught and could actually get some of my fellow classmates to engage with the lesson.
When I left school at 3.30 I had no interest in opening a history or geography book.
My mum wasn’t academic either so wouldn’t push me in that direction.
What qualifies a teacher to teach personal finance?
Like nursing, I think that teaching is a vocation and take my hat off to any anyone that can stand in front of a class of teenagers and try impart knowledge into young minds that might have no interest in learning.
Teachers are already stretched and under pressure teaching subjects that interest them, what with government targets, Ofsted, lesson plans and marking, so do we or should we burden them with having to teach financial education too?
I believe experience goes a long way in teaching personal finance and not wishing to undermine the life experience of new teachers to the profession or those with a few years under their belts, but personal finance experience might be limited.
There are those that are going to say that by going to university teachers would have gained experience in managing their finances and learning to budget and this should qualify them, but does it really? I drive, does that qualify me to be a Formula One driver, taking on Lewis Hamilton?
If asked for a show of hand whether while at university teachers felt passionate about budgeting and personal finance I don’t imagine many of them would be quirk to raise their hands.
I know this is true for me, but I only became excited about a subject when it was taught by someone who truly had a passion for it and managed to convey their passion whether it was through fun or engagement.
Accountability begins at home, doesn’t it?
As I said earlier my mum wasn’t academic and didn’t push me in that direction, she also didn’t talk about money or personal finance with me.
I knew she worked hard and managed to buy me pretty much everything that I asked for, you might say I was a spoilt little brat. As nice as that was I don’t think that it really helped me with how I approach personal finance today.
Thinking back, my attitude towards money probably came from seeing my aunt living in a nice house and driving a nice car and thinking to myself one day that’ll be me.
And this I guess brings me to my point
As good as it is in theory for financial education to be taught in schools a lot more needs to be done at home.
Whether it is simply talking about how to budget, paying household bills or the importance of not spending beyond your means.
Being taught financial education in schools is all very well but if a child’s peer group don’t have a home life that promotes financial education and personal finance what chance do they really have?
Being young was hard enough when I was growing up, but the pressures of todays young are so much more visual and intense.
Reality TV stars with no discernible talent are looked up, and I can certainly see the attraction. They are paid to have a good time and have teams surrounding them that seem to be able to show them how best to take advantage of financial opportunities. Turn the pages of a tabloid and they’ll probably be driving a nice car or live in a lovely house. The separation between what might be real and what might just be a marketing opportunity can become blurred.
Social media and marketing has also become so much more advanced that if they are seen not to have the newest, shiniest and most expensive new phone or whatever else it is that is fashionable that day, they can quickly become a social pariah. WHAT!!! You only have the IPhone 7, you’re so 2016.
A teacher that has no passion for financial education and doesn’t know how to make the subject engaging has no place to teach it.
Teachers have a hard enough job as it is already and to pile on even more pressure to teach a subject that isn’t necessarily something that they are interested in or passionate about is simply a waste of resource and isn’t going to teach a child anything that they can relate to.
The Money Charity carry out workshops in schools that might ease the pressures on teaches but even this isn’t enough.
Accountability in the home in some, not all, instances appears to have been lost.
I believe that some parents feel that their parental responsibility for useful life skills stops when they send their children to school and then it becomes a teacher’s responsibility to make their children a well-rounded member of society, even blaming their child’s teacher for their behavioural problems.
Lets allow teachers to teach what they love and get the young actively interested in learning.
Financial education and personal finance is best taught by relatives and role models.
Making a child is the easy part, the hardest part is making sure that they not only feel loved and cared for but they are given parental wisdom that will give them a head start in the challenges of life.