There are many things in life we are not born able to do. Most things, actually. When babies are born, they have to learn pretty much every skill they will rely on later in life, from walking and using the toilet, to rolling their eyes and answering back. A lot of the skills they learn will come from parents, particularly early on. In later life their teachers and, possibly to an even greater extent, their peers, will have an impact on how they grow and develop. I think education falls into two camps; academic, which is mainly school-based, and moral, which often comes from a family focus. It should be a partnership between home and school to ensure that children get a complete education. Learning, not just the three 'R's, but also how to make good judgements and wise decisions, like the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are encouraging here in Maria's post from Happy Mummy.
There are some aspects of life though, that seem to get completely overlooked, like finance. When, and how do you teach children to be responsible with money? In an ideal world, we would be teaching financial advice and money management from the first tooth fairy visit, but it never seems important. It isn't really important for all of a child's life, because they obviously can't get credit and there are no consequences if they run out of cash. I teach my children about saving money and not wasting it. I explain about offers an multibuys in the supermarket, but it's really hard to teach them about budgeting with their own money, because it is so far removed from anything they relate to. But, children grow up. Before you know it, they are able to make financial decisions of their own and they don't have to even tell you about it! They can take out phone contracts, debit cards, even gamble, while they are still living at home without even having a proper job. This is actually terrifying and the amount of credit that's available these days to anyone, regardless of age or status, has further underlined the need for money management to be taught in schools.
There is also the issue of student loans. Those same young people, in a few short years, are suddenly handed thousands of pounds and told they need to spread it out over a number of months. They only get grants or loan payments during term time too, so have to also remember to keep enough back for those weeks too. You need to have a good head on your shoulders as a much more experienced adult, to make that happen, how hard must it be at their age? I'm not sure I could do it. Some years ago, after redundancy and a couple of dodgy second hand cars, we ended up with debts all over the place and needed a consolidation loan to get back on our feet. We have a huge debt culture in this country and the lack of education has to be partly to blame. From the moment they are old enough, the temptation to get the latest phone on a two year contract is there, but no one reminds them that they don't know what their financial position will be in a year's time. It doesn't seem like much money each week, but add in a couple of catalogue payments, and a credit card and suddenly that's half your income gone. So why aren't we teaching this stuff? It's about more than just maths, it's about thinking ahead, exercising restraint, resisting temptation. That's a lot of skills to pick up along the way. I don't actually know how it would be taught, I don't have a lesson plan in mind, but I do know that, in order to shape responsible adults, schools teach sex education. Pupils also learn from an early age about hygiene and relationships, cooking and social skills, so it is possible to successfully teach life skills to children. This life skill, though, is very much overlooked and yet it can have devasting, far reaching effects on someone's life. It's time to take it seriously and start to reduce the credit card culture of this generation.