Should finance be taught in schools?

The school-age years are the most formative period of our lives— they’re when we learn how to interact with the world. Thus, our education system tries to send positive, socially productive messages to its students.

Other messages can be picked up at home, from friends, and from the most commercially nefarious influence of all… television.

Remember the 90s commercials that explained how “there are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s Master Card”?

That’s a lesson right there: Any expense can be put on a charge card. With no apparent consequence.

Usually the school system tries to counter these commercialized messages of greed and selfishness by promoting counter-values, like sharing and cooperation. But when it comes to finance, their message is clear:

Nothing.

There is a void, and I think schools need to fill it wisely.

Thomas Jefferson pointed out that democracy only works if the populace is educated enough to make an informed decision. The same could be applied to capitalism.

It is true— economics is taught in high school, and God only knows how many MBA graduate schools exist in this country. But economic theory and the mechanics of generating capital are not the same as fiscal critical thinking.

The financial crisis of 2008-2009 showed the world that even professional investors can be as misinformed and reckless as a typical teenager. Someone earlier in life must not have been doing their job…

But could teaching fiscal competence hurt the economy? Would it encourage less spending?

Consumers who navigate the allure of consumption are far more economically productive than those who rack up thousands in credit card debt, have homes foreclosed on, etc.

Their trick is to build income instead of spending it. When financial advice comes from commercials, it’s easy to believe that the goal of money is to buy, buy, BUY!

And the earlier literacy is taught, the better. If the messages of saving and delayed gratification begin in Kindergarten, by 12th Grade ideas as radical as “contribute to your Roth IRA!” won’t appear to come from Mars.

Everyone loves to talk about protecting our children’s future. I can’t think of a better way than teaching them finance.

Alexander Carl

Alexander Carl

I find it difficult to brag about myself. Too modest? Perhaps.

Anyway: my name is Alexander Carl. I am a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I spent four blissful years earning a degree in Communication Studies. Now I face the real world of economic downturns, student loans, and the absence of “academic” camaraderie.

Yet I refuse to be bummed. My economic philosophy is to live simply, save, and maximize whatever I can. Consumer culture is undeniably pervasive, but you don’t have to sell your soul to co-exist with it— there is great power from using your economic resources wisely.

I started writing when I figured out how to hold a pencil. Since then I’ve written short stories, poetry, screenplays, and have blogged. In fact, three of my screenplays have been produced into short films, two of which I directed. I’m no stranger to the media, having served as a DJ at a freeform radio station and worked as a crew member for live TV.

Pastimes include traveling (I’ll visit virtually anywhere), swimming, jogging, hiking, and hunkering down with a good movie.

Overall I’m a peaceful person, though not in a creepy New Agey way. I get my energy from music, good conversation, and the outdoors (I was an active Boy Scout, earning my Eagle). I consider myself “inquisitive” and “wry”, and for the sake of autobiography I’ll assume that I am.
Alexander Carl

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