Once again it is time to send out little cherubs back to school, another school year is upon us and kids are still taught in the same way that became fashionable in the Industrial Revolution. Isn't it about time things changed? For all the kids who will be rushing back to school - how many do you think will be able to make a success of themselves in a financial sense when it comes to their turn? Seriously - what do schools teach our children and young people these days?
Schooling through history
If you took a quick trip back to the days around the Industrial Revolution, the school system would not look all that different. In fact, if you went back even further to a time where society was Agrarian in nature you would still be able to recognize the basic school system for what it is today. You see back then, the point of school was primarily not to teach the kids for their own benefit - it was to give them a basic skill set which would make them useful employees when they cam of age. That age was not real old back then either by the way.
An added bonus of herding children into the schoolhouse was that they were not under their parents' feet, leaving them free to work for the aristocratic landowners that ran the place. It was quite handy really, the children would get out of school mid afternoon, early enough to do some chores and contribute around the house - probably get dinner ready as well. The focus was hardly on education - just a preparation for a life of servitude.
When populations began to move off the land and into larger towns and cities, the schooling system became a little more formalized. This ensured that factories that were springing up about the place would be able to have access to a steady stock of willing workers who were all up to the same standard. This required them to be provided with very little training for the basic menial jobs they had to contend with.
Before education of youngsters became formalized in a school setting - guess how kids were taught... at home by their mothers (most of the time - not sexist, just factual). At least this was the case until they were old enough to enter a system of apprenticeships, guilds and what was often a very comprehensive system for the provision of on the job training. The whole purpose of this was to teach the business, trade or skill set to the young person in order to make them a consummate professional in their field.
Do you think that is the case of education today? No, I think not.
Today's system of education
The system of education that we put our kids through is a ridiculous form of babysitting, let's be honest with ourselves here. I remember I thought that when I was at school - and I bet some of you did too. Well guess what, we were right!
The whole purpose of school is to train children to become good employees. It's not about being a good person, a good parent, a great husband or wife - it is just about being a good worker for whoever is good enough to hire you. It's time we stepped out of that mentality and took greater control of not just our lives, but the lives of our children. As we watch them struggle through an archaic school system which is molding their minds, habits and future into something monocultural and one dimensional - does it not occur to you that things should be different?
As today's system of education is geared to provide employees for employers - let's buck the system and encourage our kids to think a little outside the box. Why should they settle for working for a company in return for a silly wage when they could be spending time with their family - then get a series of expensive loans which shackle them to that job until such time as they are too tired to do anything different? That's not what I want for my kids - and I know that I owe it to them to provide them with an alternative.
What is the alternative?
The alternative to putting up with all that no good schooling is to provide an alternative education to them. Children should be learning entrepreneurial skills from a young age, and given the opportunity to expand and explore these as they grow and develop. In contrast, today's school system stifles any creativity and scoffs scornfully at any attempt to do things differently.
While this financial education should be provided to children at schools as part of their educational program - the curriculum - it is not, and probably will not be to any great degree for quite a while. Kids need to learn how to make money work for them - they need basic skills like budgeting and drawing up a balance sheet and making adjustments accordingly. Kids should be taught these things so that they can have better lives doing what they want to do, what interests them in the company of those they choose to be around.
So what can we do to give our kids a real education?
Financial education must begin at home then, as schools are unable or unwilling to assist. Don't get me wrong, it is not the fault of teachers, who are just doing their jobs - they have a curriculum to teach and that is the extent of their role. If they don't teach what they are told to then it will put their job at risk - and no teacher wants that.
So the lack of financial education is a systemic problem which has ongoing effects for children long after they leave school. The solution is to change the education system altogether - which is extraordinarily unlikely, at least in the near future. After all the system we have now has been around for quite a while, and although that does not make it right, it makes it difficult to shake free from.
So it falls to parents to educate their children in financial matters. To do that they must know a thing or two themselves of course, so that may in turn require a little independent thinking and learning on the part of parents. Make it a family affair - read the money and business pages in newspapers and online, take a free course available on the internet, play stock market games, try demo forex trading... All these activities are free and are great fun for family members to do together - so instead of leaving your kids to the hands of glorified babysitters at school to sit in a system that is not designed to impart knowledge for their own benefit, take control and impart a real education starting at home.