While in secondary school a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to attend an orientation for an upstart program called the Academy of Finance. Now, I knew very little about the Academy of Finance but I was promised pizza and for a 15 year old kid that proved to be as good of a reason as any. In between slices of pizza I listened as the director of the program rattled off item after item, describing not only the program but the benefit that being involved in the program would provide us when applying for college. Though I knew very little about business or finance, the program seemed simple enough, and my schedule was pretty free during the fall and winter months.
10 classes, three conferences, two state-wide business competitions, and two-years later, the Academy of Finance proved to be one of the more beneficial decisions I had ever made- thank god for pizza.
High school curriculum is littered with necessary and unnecessary educational programs. While we focus far too little on subjects such as writing and reading comprehension, we require students to study levels of math not used unless students are interested in a math specific field. But these problems aren’t the only problems. We fail at preparing our children for the necessary practicalities that we all tend to encounter in our lives: taxes, financial management, insurance, etc.
I was very lucky because I had a father who stressed, and continues to do so, the importance of understanding at the most basic level how money works. It’s not enough that we understand how to simply make money. We also need to understand how to spend it properly. We need to understand what it really means to save money; what it means to invest money. And this is where a strong curriculum of business would be beneficial in secondary school.
Imagine a secondary school business program that tackled subjects such as Investing 101 or Introduction to Accounting. Imagine a program that taught students how to write a business plan. Imagine a program that taught students how to understand the role policy has on economics or how far an individual’s income truly goes. The reality is that we don’t have to imagine anymore. These were classes that I took in secondary school. Unfortunately, I was only allowed to take the classes because I was involved in a specific organization designed to teach me these things. Far too many students haven’t and will not have the opportunity that I had.
I think about the student who wasn’t as lucky as me. The student who didn’t have parents to teach him about business, and the student who didn’t happen to luck into a business program like me. How do we expect that student to react in the real world, a world no longer protected by the walls of adolescence?
Providing an education to our youth goes much deeper than simply filling their heads with facts and figures. At some point, a value must be placed on how well our children are able to adapt to a financially unstable world.