Listen here as well.

Have you ever wondered how much of what you learned in high school is applicable in your daily life?

Do a quick reflection and mentally record what percentage of the content you covered in school actually prepared you for the real world.

Let’s consider three of the major factors that impact the way you choose to live your life:

  • Managing your relationships
  • Loving and forgiving others
  • Managing your finances

Over the years I’ve come to realize that maintaining a great relationship with my husband, my children, other family members, and my friends, takes a great deal of time, effort and patience. Not to mention how relationships can become very challenging at times due to personality differences. I often find it difficult to consistently maintain a balance among all of them. And overtime I have had to learn to prioritise in order to maintain some sanity. The downside however is, I’ve lost contact with some friends and family members along the way.

Many self-help books I read professed how important it is to have good friends and healthy relationships. My grandma used to say: “Good friends are better than pocket money”. So occasionally I asked myself: If relationships are so important — and I do agree — why didn’t I get a textbook on relationships? Where were the lessons to teach me how to maintain a great relationship with my husband and my children for example…how do I deal with the ups and downs? Oh, and what about loving and forgiving others? Where was the textbook on that?

Thank goodness for my grandma who would take me to Sunday School every Sunday from I was a wee one. There I learned about loving one another, forgiving others, doing unto others as I would have them do unto me and more. But what if you didn’t attend Sunday School? Where were you expected to learn about such things? I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember learning about any of these things during my academic career. And even if I did, I must have been too young to remember. Or perhaps you were expected to learn such in your home? But let’s face it, there are so many broken homes. Maybe your parents got divorced because they too needed some lessons on loving, forgiving and maintaining good relationships. How could they teach you what they themselves don’t even know? Don’t you think these are some of the things you should have learned in school on an ongoing basis?

This brings me to my next topic: Managing your daily finances. Do you remember a course that taught you how to do your budget, your taxes, invest your money, or the difference between an asset and a liability? How many times have you heard your parents arguing about money? Were there times they would have liked to take you on a vacation but they just couldn’t afford it? And were there times you wondered why they didn’t have enough money, even though you knew they made good income? Here is another classic example of how the school system fails to prepare you for the real world.

While maintaining good friendships/relationships, love and forgiveness may be centred around emotions, personality differences, morality and so on — which may make it more difficult to create a course that covers these factors — a course like mathematics can easily cover topics that help you to manage your finances. For instance, good money sense, budgeting, investing, and good debt vs. bad debt are all topics that are related to math. But did you learn these in your math courses? Let me answer that question for you, because I know the answer will depend on whether you were in  academic, applied, or essential math.

My observation as a high school math teacher is that academic and applied math focus more on abstract theoretical concepts like quadratics, trigonometry, and transformation of functions instead of on teaching you good money sense and how to conduct your financial affairs. The essential math however, focuses more on money sense and real life applications. This I believe is very ironic, because essential math is designated for the very low performing math students, and these classes are usually 10 to 15 students. So it would seem these essential real life skills are only applicable to the small population that perform very poorly in math.

Sadly, for this reason there are many students who end their high school academic math career with an A+, who will later realize that they are financially illiterate. And they, like you, may have difficulty managing their money. I, an A+ math student, had a wake up call later in life when I realized that my financial IQ wasn’t as good as I thought. I had misconceptions about money, and I made some mistakes along the way. When I looked to the future, I felt I wouldn’t be able to live the lifestyle I dreamed about if I didn’t change my context. So I decided to do some self-directed learning to increase my financial IQ. In fact, I’m actually still learning. I believe my schooling was shortchanged by the flawed education system. I should have been taught financial literacy in school, because that would have put me in a better position to conduct my financial affairs more effectively from earlier in my life.

Luckily for me, I learned a lot from my grandparents who were farmers and had a small business. This put me ahead of the game a bit. But do you feel you’re ahead of your financial game right now? I believe everyone should learn financial literacy on an ongoing basis in high school. Every grade should be building on the previous grade with age appropriate financial skills….so that you can acquire the needed skills to keep the bank out of your pocket and set you up for living a better lifestyle now and later in your life. The high school curriculum definitely needs some work!

It was for this reason I decided to author the upcoming book:

Good Grades Rock!
But A+ ≠ $UCCE$$

It is my hope that high school education will reflect more real life lessons that students can implement in their daily lives.

My book however, will focus on the importance of having a high financial IQ, and the role school should be playing in helping students to achieve $UCCE$$ in their finances as well.