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Why I Hate Shapes: Schools Failing Financial Literacy

Updated: Aug 27, 2023

I was born in 1980 and since that time the world has changed a lot. For example, we’ve invented the internet, bluetooth, smartphones, streaming, etc. These are only a few of the life changing inventions that we all use on a daily basis. In stark contrast to these technological marvels, our school system has generally remained stuck in a 1980s time capsule. Let me explain.

I live in Massachusetts, which according to a recent study by WalletHub, was ranked as the best state public school system. I’m also fortunate to live in one of the top ranking towns in the state. In other words, my two children attend one of the best public schools in the country; however, they are learning a lot of the same useless information, often through rote memorization, that I was taught as a child.

For example, my kids learn how to write in cursive, the intricate details of various rock formations, and spend countless hours on shapes. In my 43 years of life, no one has ever asked me what about a rhombus.

Shapes moving

Before I go on, let me say that this isn’t a failure of our teachers, and I’m not only saying this because I’m married to one, but rather it’s a failure of our federal and state systems. Our teachers are continually provided with more and more information to cover and with curriculums which were created in a land before time.

My solution would be to eliminate non-value add topics, such as cursive, and then spend significantly less time on limited-value topics such as shapes. I think it’s important for my children to know what circles, squares, and triangles are, but I don’t think they need to understand the angles of a parallelogram! The time created by eliminating or limiting these outdated topics, should be used to teach financial literacy!

Professor teaching cursive

There are countless statistics that speak to our lack of financial literacy as a country, including:

  • 64% live paycheck to paycheck

  • 36% have more credit card debt than emergency savings

  • Estimated average amount of money that lacking knowledge about personal finances cost people was $1,819 in 2022

  • 70 percent of wealthy families are no longer wealthy by the second generation and approximately 90 percent have lost their wealth by the third generation

It’s critical that our children learn these skills to change the financial narrative of our country. These lessons should include, what is wealth, how to spend within their means, using credit cards responsibly, learning to be accountable for their financial situation, investing, and more. The use of a practical, simple, and interactive curriculum which starts in kindergarten and carries through to high school could help to reverse the current financial trajectory of the approximately 50 million students enrolled in our public schools systems.

For example, when my children were 5 and 3, I started to teach them about investing in a kid-friendly manner. My 5-year old started asking me if we owned every company we drove past in the car, Starbucks, Mobile, Target, Walmart, McDonalds, etc. At 5-years-old, he was able to understand the basic concept of owning stocks, yet a significant percentage of adults don’t understand it, and it’s not their fault, but rather the fault of our school systems.

I shudder to think what’s happening in the 49th ranked school system!

Meme about kids learning about shapes instead of financial literacy

It’s not time for a change, it’s necessary!

Disclaimer: The information in this post is provided for your convenience only and is not intended to be treated as financial, investment, tax, or other advice. The information is intended to be educational and is not tailored to the investment needs of any specific individual.  It is also not intended to be relied upon as a forecast and is not an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy.  The opinions expressed are those of the author.  Reliance upon the guidance and information in this presentation is at the sole discretion of the individual.


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