Money, money, money: Finance education in schools
Updated: Jul 18
In secondary schools globally, there is something lacking. Something all adults are assumed to know and understand, but something definitely not taught in middle and high schools. Financial literacy… or in plain speak: understanding the dynamics of money. This is broadly lacking in middle and high schools - so much so - that it has given rise to the modern financial influencer who provides the wisdom to ‘save, save, save’, ‘spend below your means’ and ‘pay off high interest debts first’, which is all quite obvious methods to financial benefits when consider by those with almost any degree of financial literacy. However, they are popular, because for the middle class we are all seeking a way to elevate ourselves beyond the daily grind.
This would have been a truck-load easier for individuals if they had been taught even the basics of financial literacy in school. If someone leaves school and has the basics of financial literacy, then that would give them a head-start in their understanding and learning about finances both personal and large-scale. Those without basic financial literacy start their learning in the real-world by making mistakes, by taking loans with high interest rates, by spending frivolously or acting in ways from which they can never fully recover.
Without schools and teachers providing students with financial education, then the students rely on parents alone, this may not always be enough. I myself did not receive financial education from my parents and had to figure out how to do my own taxes, what good or poor interest rate on loans and mortgages would be and how to save an appropriate amount on a monthly basis. This highlights why financial literacy should be considered as a mandatory requirement of any modern curriculum.
While it would be excellent to have money related matters as a full subject in middle / high school, it seems unlikely to occur in the near future. For now, it is best placed as a homeroom topic or taught through the lens of other subjects whenever and wherever possible in the system as allowed. While it is true that money isn’t everything, it is always necessary to a certain minimum level and without it life is much, much more difficult for any individual or group of individuals.
Having taught financial literacy in my current position, students receive this learning well and are curious about these topics. I taught them about inflation, investing basics and how to buy a home and how the housing market can fluctuate based on local and global drivers. Students understand the need to learn about these topics and can value them, while they may not understand all the nuances and facets that they will be faced with in later life, they can grasp the broad concepts to help them get a foundation that will help them in the future.
For anyone considering teaching financial literacy in some form, please find here some relevant and free resources:
Free online high school financial literacy lessons: https://everfi.com/courses/k-12/financial-literacy-high-school/
OECD - financial education homepage: https://www.oecd.org/financial/education/
It is my hope that this blog post will inspire 1, 2 or a dozen educators to include even a little more financial education into their teaching when and where time allows. If I have helped inspire change for a single student, then my time and energy to write this blog post was entirely worth it.
Cheers and stay curious
Thanks for reading - Oliver - The Teaching Astrophysicist
(Note: This blog post was NOT generated by AI and is conceived, typed and uploaded by a real person.)