It’s Time To Change The Way We Educate Our Kids About maths And Money

maths Pic Equation

{Jadranka} via Flickr

Don’t know much about geography
Don’t know much trigonometry
Don’t know much about algebra
Don’t know what a slide rule is for”
~ Sam Cooke

President Obama wants to raise the US debt ceiling next month. In short, he is trying to prevent us from defaulting to foreign countries. But it means we are increasing our credit limit and borrowing more from those countries to meet our obligations. Do we care? 

Sadly, most people probably don’t care about our national debt until the media brings it to our attention. But the truth is we quickly forget about it, not really grasping the true consequences of what the national debt means to our personal economic situation.   

Last year, I was in the open house at my daughter’s eleventh grade class. The Algebra II teacher said that he felt everyone would pass this class, but he was more concerned about the seniors who were flunking the basic economics elective he taught. He laughed that they couldn’t tell the difference between a deduction and a deposit. Almost everyone laughed…except me.

An elective taught to the seniors…not a mandatory class taught to all ninth graders?!

No wonder our kids don’t know anything about finances.

What kind of country would we live in if we raised our next generation to be responsible with their money?  It would be the kind of country where raising the debt, balancing the budget and spending $4.00 for a gallon of gasoline would be unknown.

Imagine a society where kids would be raised to save money, instead of spending it.  Imagine young people knowing how to open and maintain a checking account before they ever have an income.   Imagine your children understanding what terms like FICA, Social Security, payroll deduction and money markets are before they get a job.

So who is responsible for young people knowing about basic economics?  

Their parents? You can say that, but I don’t completely agree. I don’t think most parents have an understanding of basic economics. They borrow more than they can afford to pay off (back to the US government’s debt crisis), they spend more than they make (Dave Ramsey says, “Act your wage.”), and they live well above their means and lifestyles. Parents should, but they won’t for the obvious reaons.

The schools? The schools already teach kids sex, nutrition, and how to read. So why don’t we make the schools teach our children how to be good citizens with their money? No, we are too busy teaching electives about financial responsibility and making students learn terms like: sine, cosine, and tangent – principles only a few of them will ever use in their lives. Schools should, but they are too busy teaching useless garbage.

When I think back
On all the crap I learned in high school
It’s a wonder
I can think at all
~ Paul Simon

Quick, what is the absolute value of -3? If you know, good for you. Tell me when was the last time you needed to know that to take home a paycheck? Unless you are a rocket scientist, I think almost never.
Now quick, what is FICA? If you know, you are employed.Tell me when was the last time you needed to know that to take home a paycheck? Last week, or this week?

It’s time to reinvent the way we educate our children about maths and Money.

I am not against teaching maths. I am against teaching useless maths required of everyone.  Most of us will never use Trigonometry or the Absolute Value of a number in our entire lifetimes. Every one of us will have to know how to handle, save, and spend money for the rest of our lives.

But how do we handle it now? Change our habits.

  • Any financial advisor will tell you that each year most people retire with little or less than enough savings set aside to live on.
  • Any credit counselor will tell you that most people carry more than $5,000 in debt every month and don’t make a habit of paying off their bills when they are due.
  • Any banker will tell you that they make most of their money off of people’s bad spending habits (overdraft fees, excessive use of credit accounts, etc.).

I will tell you that young people have no knowledge of basic financial habits that they will need to even start their first job.

We don’t know or care enough about the US economy and the crisis it faces today because we don’t know enough to manage our own finances. So we keep electing other people to handle (or mis-handle) it for us.  And then we ignore it, because we can’t understand it in our own lives.

It would mean more to us, if we acted responsibly in our lives, our schools and in our households.

Jim Mathis, CSP is The Reinvention Strategist™ , an international Certified Speaking Professional and author of the soon to be released book, Reinvent Yourself – The Simple Steps to Dominate Your Market. To subscribe to his free personal and professional development newsletter, please send an email to: [email protected] with the word SUBSCRIBE in the subject. An electronic copy will be sent out to you every month. For more information on how Jim and his programs can benefit your organisation or group, please call 888-688-0220, or visit his web site: