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An obsession with grades is depriving us of financial education
Education may have been reduced to an inconclusive grade card, but lessons in finance would last far longer, says 16-year-old Annie Lew.
by Annie Lew on Jun 26, 2012 at 12:52
So it appears that I, a 16-year-old student about to embark on my A-levels, know very little about money.
This became apparent during a recent trip to the bank when questions first directed at me – such as whether I would prefer a three- or four-year fixed-rate ISA for example – were soon put to my mother instead. Perhaps it was my dumbfounded expression that warned the adviser that my decision might not be a well-informed one.
But this was my money, so surely I should be the one to decide what to do with it? Or rather, surely I should be in a position to be able to decide what to do with it.
Does the government not care that we teenagers are not even being taught what an ISA is before entering the world of student loans and mortgage applications? Why aren’t we being given the basic tools to go about these daunting tasks?
Some argue that maths GCSE is enough, but frankly it’s not. We might learn the difference between simple and compound interest – worth maybe one mark in our exam – but this isn’t a lesson in money management.
Our generation is too focused on gaining grades rather than digging for a deeper understanding of a topic. A GCSE student doesn’t question maths – how can we? When we’ve solved the equation to find ‘X’ there is no time to have a class discussion on why mathematicians have decided that cross multiplying is a valid method.
Over a 13-year-old's head
The plan to incorporate financial education into PSHE (personal, social and health education) may seem like a good idea, but my school stopped including this informal subject in Year 9. And even if I had learned about finance then, what would have I really absorbed, as I would have only been 13 years old!
In fact, even at 16, financial education may not be a good idea. When in the middle of important GCSEs a lesson that has nothing to do with our exams would not be very popular.
As a student I know that learning the entire GCSE syllabus, with only five hours for each of the 10 subjects in a two-week timetable, is tight enough without digressing.
So how can we find the time? Year 10, when stress levels are lower, may be the solution. A lesson every fortnight about finance would be very useful, and may even be enjoyable.
No matter how packed a school schedule is, financial education is vital: we need it to learn how to invest in our own future.
Easy to be misled
When I was trying to decide on the best way to grow my money the bank employee kept saying ‘I can’t advise you’. If my mother hadn't been there to help me, would I have made a stupid – and probably avoidable mistake – because ‘how to manage your money’ was not an Edexcel GCSE Maths specified topic?
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