Saturday, 19 November 2011

Teaching Money Matters in School - WHY?

Home Economics + Basic Arithmetic = Good Kousekeeping!

Shona Prophett gets into her stride on the state of the nation.

I've been watching the recent news and developments with regards to the petitions that are floating around the place. They are plying us with reasons to pledge our support to their cause, asking us to help bring money matters into schools as part of our basic education system. To be frank, I just don't get it!

School is a place for children learning the basics needed for their future adult lives, isn't it? These lessons are simple, they establish an elementary understanding of subjects that are important to everyone during future careers, regardless of what that career may or may not be. We can choose to listen and learn or we can tolerate these 'lessons' up until the point we have the freedom of choice to leave school and learn in another capacity - through life itself.

Some may see school simply as a place where children get sent during the day so they aren't wandering the streets with nothing better to do, biding their time until they are old enough to earn. School, like nursery, could even be seen as a place where children go so their parents can carry out activities other than childcare, like earning an income or anything else they see fit to do in the absence of their offspring.

Whatever any of us thinks of school, it is our right to have a basic education and our duty to provide similar for future generations. But it is not our duty to accept responsibility for the bad spending habits of others. We each receive a basic understanding of reading, writing and arithmetic, along with the simple concept of economics, be they home or otherwise, so common sense should prevail. But it doesn't!

Those who should know more than us have burdened this society with false beliefs that we should all be classed as equals, that we should all be able to partake of a decent meal, own designer labels, buy the most up to date gadgetry and possess all manner of luxury items. We should all be able to afford hobbies, pastimes and holidays, convenience and luxury should be readily available, en masse.

They led us to believe that we could all own our own homes and have the basic skills necessary to turn us into entrepreneurs or even just start our own businesses. But they overlooked one fundamental flaw in the plan - the fact that money is not a living entity. It cannot grow naturally, it cannot adapt to its surroundings and it cannot learn right from wrong. It is nothing more than paper, plastic and metal developed, manufactured and controlled by the chosen few who, to their disgrace, have been unable to balance the nations' books.

The concept is simple - take one pile of money, divide it be any number to whom you see fit to lend, then sit back and watch them pay dividends, by way of interest. If those payments fail, charge even more, add on penalties and drive the borrowers further into debt. Offer an array of incentives and promises of a better future, more security, better choices and the potential to feel good and then sit back, watch the borrowers borrow more and spend more, lining the pockets of the chosen few or those who chose to become one of them by sheer grit and determination. They all seem to have one thing in common - a total disregard for others when things, not surprisigly, go wrong. But there are always the 'get out' clauses of insolvency and bankruptcy!

This continual building of debt has now escalated to such a height that even they cannot fathom out an agreeable method to stopping it, let alone putting it right. Their solutions are to print more money, cut back on what they think is 'unneccessary' spending and make it even more difficult for 'normal' people to build real, reputable businesses that can grow to prosper and employ others.

They price ordinary people out of the market with legislation governing maternity pay, paternity pay, pension schemes, insurances, restricted working hours and minimum wage thresholds, then sit back and await the next emergency move.

But where do they go when all the previous options fail? They need to cast blame further and wider, so now we see the blame being laid on the children... If the youth of today and the common people had learned more, this may never have happened.

Well that is bullshit!

Those who dragged this nation to its proverbial knees were the very people who allegedly benefited from extra education. All their accumulated wealth of wisdom and expertise led us to where we are now, watching and waiting for the next global catastrophe that can quickly be assigned a few billion that adds to the amassed debt. They need huge tragedies, wars and disasters, so future generations can look back on history and point the finger of blame in any direction except that which is true. Nobody appears to have shoulders broad enough to support the burden of controlling what really cannot be controlled, so let's start again - educate the young.

To whom should we look for this teaching?

How and why are the current teaching methods allegedly failing us so badly?

Controlling a company, household or personal budget is nothing more than a combination of basic arithmetic and home economics, so why are so many people so bad at it?

Why isn't a closer look being taken at the education system itself?

Why are teachers failing to teach the basic principles of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division?

Why are parents failing to teach their children the basic skills necessary for survival in a capitalist society?

Is it not possible that some form of brainwashing has swept through our entire Western civilisation, engulfing an entire generation, and that generation is not the youth of today! Nor even is it their parents' nor their grand parents' generations.

There has always been poverty, unrest, unfair division and class differences. YES! I dare to suggest that we still live within a 'Class' system and I dare to deny the existence of this so-called 'classless society' or equality that was dreamt up by some 'numpty' who thought the only way to cast off blame from those who should have known better, would be to invite society's minions into their lifestyle of wanton greed and waste - offer them more credit, hold them down by debt, if they come out fighting, let them take the blame when it all goes wrong.

So, I guess what I am trying to say here is that, in my humble opinion, people won't learn lessons that they don't want to learn, even if it is taught in schools. Brainwashing is everywhere - it's called advertising! Unless we ignore all of that and accept that debt is caused by spending more than we have, then what gets taught in our schools matters not one jot.

It is up to us, as individuals, to challenge ourselves to live within our means and if speculative investments need to be made, have a back up plan in the event you don't quite pull it off in time.

Shona Prophett


  1. Looking forward to reading a few comments on this hot topic. :)

  2. Wow have you got a burr under your saddle! Stay calm; there aren't funds to change school curriculae for good or bad. Of course the kids aren't to blame for the mess we are in. Most of us have lived beyond our means. We are getting a hard dose of reality now, especially here in the U.S. The important thing is to accept the truth, live sustainably and not let fascism overtake us as it did in the 1930's.

  3. Personally I have a great deal to say about this topic! Though I will keep things succinct for now:

    1) society has disassociated the value behind money e.g. £X is the real worth of actual labour to produce something. Some people, my elder sister for starters, view money as coupons for getting stuff and as long as she can get stuff, she is not bothered about whether she is paying fair value because she cannot associate value with money properly; and

    2) don't assume parents are automatically savvy about anything or everything in life let alone the upbringing of their children. My parents, well-meaning although they are, are pretty clueless themselves. Both my parents just assumed that school would take care of every aspect of a child's upbringing and nuturing in addition to education.

    I would have welcomed some general, basic and unbiased instructions at school about money matters and how the economy works. Afterall, trying to figure all that out on one's own is confusing. Those positive first steps would make a difference.

  4. I think the word is greed. My mother often says:

    "More wants more".

    Bonnie is right to compare the 1930's to today. India and China seem to be the new Europe and we are suffering. China is even lending money to North America. I hate Capitalism. A system where you can have whatever you want if you appear to be able to afford it.

    Why can't we have a more Agrarian approach to life. Bring back the horses and carts, peasant farmers, Dig For Victory..

    Am I talking Feudalism? No. I am thinking more on the lines of Distributism. GK Chesterton,a another one of my literary heroes. Believed that Distributism, the means of the production from the land, should be owned by as many people as it is possible. Lets go back to the guilds system. Let the local people govern and distribute the local wealth.

    Even under the feudal system. A serf could live on a lords land, with his or her own little house and acre of land. In return they would work just one day a week for the lord. The rest of the week they could grow vegetables, make beer, raise animals, paint, write and weave.

    How's that for a rant?

    Great blog Frugaldom.

  5. Bonnie, here in the UK they are petitioning to introduce a new subject into the national curriculum right now.

    I'm not against progress, nor am I against the opportunity to improve one's self, wealth, health or happiness, but nor can I see the point of all the petition signing in order to get a new subject brought into our schools. The general public has little or no say in how the country is run, most are hard-pushed to take themselves to the polling stations to vote, let alone anything else.

    Basic arithmetic and home economics cover just about everything we (ordinary folks) need to know in order to avoid (or control) debt.

    I don't believe any amount of education will call a halt to people spending on credit or getting into debt. We only need to look at the lack of success of sex education in schools to see that it did not halt teenage pregnancies or the spread of STDs.

    Information is readily available, but you cannot force people to learn. Every child in UK is offered the same basic education, yet some still leave school without the ability to write a sentence, let alone control their personal spending when someone tells them they can spend more than they earn and pay it back later.

    We want progress, not more scapegoats.

    Has the ridiculously low interest rate of 0.5% helped debtors afford their debts? I don't see any mortgages, loans or credit cards offering even 1%, that's for sure!

    It's a complete and utter sham, fuelled by ignorance and what 'they' feed to the media.

    My non-professional, non-Degree holding opinion of how to solve money problems is to slash spending to the barest essentials while trying to generate and protect future income. The Government / Bank of England having to print more money must surely mean they can see no way of generating enough of the stuff to keep the country afloat. And by the country, I mean the Government and Government funded services, I don't mean the general public.

  6. Mixed feelings on this one - as, to me, its self-evident that some of the things we expect (ie decent meals/hobbies/pastimes/a house of our own) are indeed a necessity. I would agree with you on most of the things you quote and certainly don't agree with people thinking its okay to get into debt as casually as most do. I also think it needs acknowledging that many people who end up bankrupt havent been put in that position by other people - its down to decisions they themselves made. Either way - one hasnt discharged a debt and cant forget about it until it HAS actually been paid back. It annoys me to read people saying "I've gone bankrupt - and the debt is now cancelled". isnt. The only way a debt is ever cancelled is when it has been paid back in full and it should always be the aim to be in a position to do so if one can possibly can for anyone that has gone bankrupt.

    But - decent food - obviously necessary (doesnt have to be smoked salmon and caviar obviously - but should be healthy and tasty etc). HObbies and pastimes - well one has to have something of interest to do with leisuretime - and not just watching tv. I think that is perfectly reasonable to expect that (subject to it being ordinary price level things - not expensive things like horses and boats, etc).


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