Thursday, April 5, 2007

Why Are We So Financially Retarded?

fi-nance /n. & v. 1. The management of money.

re-tard-ed /adj. 1. Less advanced in mental, physical, or social development than usual for one's age.

While leaving a comment on the wonderful blog Blogging Away Debt, a reader named Karen posted this: "I also agree that finances, credit, and “money 101″ should be taught in school - high school. College is too late."

Why aren't we taught sufficiently in finances? I had one semester in high school where we were taught how to balance a checkbook.

I believe we're sent out into the world as financial illiterates. But the answer is, why? I could tell you the themes and metaphors in "Of Mice And Men," but clearly up until now I've been much more Lenny when it comes to finances than George. But when have I needed that? I can recite the Bard's "To be or not to be" speech, though it has never helped me score with the ladies.

I think personal finance should be taught four years in high school. When we teach our kids, we're preparing them for the real world, right? The quadratic equation has been utterly useless to me. A complete waste of time. However, if I'd been taught about IRA's, and investments, the truth about how credit cards operate, how credit works in general, that would have been greatly useful.

"Yes, Basil, but do you think kids will remember any of this, or care, or want to learn?"

Six words: "To be or not to be..."

Think of the volume of information we're taught in high school that never gets used again. Now think of how often the financial information would be used in a student's life.

Now, turn down the lights. Look through the blinds - is anyone watching? 'Cause I'm about to get all conspiracy theory on your ass. Are we being churned out of high schools as financially dumb as sheep for a reason? Is financial education being snuffed out in the halls of the Education Department? I think maybe we're worth more dumb than smart. I'm sure of it.

As sure as Walt Disney's frozen head waits to be reanimated for the world premiere of "Cinderella 18: Glass Slipper Stripper."

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