My 20-year-old daughter Eden asked me this week why I encouraged her to go to university if I had so much criticism about the education system. I thought this was a very good question. I am actually used to this question, because people often ask me how I can be an educator and value education so much, but express so many doubts about the way the education system works. Well, my main criticism is not about what they teach but what they do not teach.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of things we should have learned at school, because as a society, we cannot rely on parents to be able to do it by themselves. For example, we cannot expect all parents to teach their kids literacy and numeracy because not all of them know enough and out of those who do, not many are also good at teaching.
I am sure that at every stage of my life, I would probably think of different things that I believe they should have taught us at school, but here are just 2 things that are important to me now and I wish I had learned them at school – parenting and managing finances. I believe these two skills complement each other.
In my parenting program, when we examine the main stressors of family life, parenting skills and financial burdens are the most common. So basically, if we could give people the skills to manage these two areas well, we would have a better and stronger society.
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I think it is unfair to expect people to know how to parent their kids without having learned it somewhere. Yet, parenting is an important part of our life and when we make the choice to have kids, we should have the right skills to raise them well.
Many people say we should learn parenting from our own parents and I am convinced this is the main source of influence on most parents, but in many cases, our parents have done a bad job (if you want to know just how bad, check out the survey in “Divorcing Your Parents” and add your vote too).
Another problem we have is that our parents have beliefs, ideas and thoughts that are no longer relevant to our current lifestyle. Of course, many of your own parenting challenges are because your beliefs, ideas and thoughts are considered out of date by your kids… The solution is to assess every aspect of parenting, pick the skills and knowledge that are timeless and instill them in our kids.
Some of those parenting skills are:
- Working in a team
- Management – because after all, parents are the managers of a small “business” called “family”
- Time management
- Education theories – to have the freedom to pick the one that suits you
- Flexibility – to adjust to changes in circumstances and lifestyle (like Internet and SMS)
- Sales skills – to be able to sell your beliefs and ideas to your kids
- Ability to encourage and support kids when they do not follow the “standard”
- Health management – it is much better (and cheaper) to raise healthy kids than it is to “fix” them
- Dedication and persistence – to strive forward despite obstacles and challenges. This attitude alone can save our society from so many divorces and broken hearts
The other thing that comes up in every family life is their money management skills. Every parent has to operate on a budget, earn money, save, take a loan, spend and invest.
Unfortunately, learning math has nothing to do with financial skills. I remember studying difficult math at school, with graphs and functions, but when I needed a loan, I was very unhappy to discover I still needed my dad, who is also an accountant, to explain things to me.
The first year I lived by myself, I had to live on a tight student budget. Every day, I thanked my dad for supporting me and kept asking myself, “What do people when their dad isn’t good with money and can’t afford to support them?”
Later on, when I started my first business, I had to go to my dad for help with my taxes, managing my accounts and handling invoices and receipts. Every time, I asked myself, “What would I do if my dad was not around to help me?”
At some point in life, almost every person buys a place to live. Unfortunately, most property buyers do not know the difference between a good loan and a bad loan.
Every person (including the very rich ones) goes through bad times, when money they have put aside determines whether or not they survive the crisis. When I lived in Texas, I met some people who had health problems that were threatening their life. They put off dealing with their problems because they could not afford to take 6 weeks off after surgery to recover!
You are probably asking yourself why I am telling you all this.
Well, if you agree with me that the education system is not doing a good job of giving your kids what they need, it is in your best interest to give it to them yourself.
- Study parenting (this blog is one of many excellent resources for this) and money management and develop your timeless skills. Consider enrolling in an online course, local seminar or workshops with experts who have a proven track record for what they teach. Being a good role model is the best way to teach those skills to your kids and not a minute too soon.
- Network – join support groups, discussion forums and social media sites whose members have similar experience or better. Try to find mentors you can follow to success.
- Promote your parenting philosophy to your kids and back it up with explanations as to why you do what you do and why you believe what you believe, so when they make a choice to copy it, they will have good reasons.
- Teach your kids how to handle money. Not math but financial management. Teach them how to make money, how to save for a purpose and how to achieve financial freedom. Kids can learn all this from the moment they know how to count to 100 (I dare say they can do it even when they only know how to count to 10 by saving coins and buying simple things with their pocket money).
“The education system has a lot of advantages”, I told my daughter, “And the reason I encourage you to go to university is mainly because I value education greatly. The good news is that when you go to university, you are a bit older than you were at school, so you know what you are looking for and you pick the university that will give you best what you want and the courses that will cater for your areas of interest”.
She registered to study Psychology, so parenting is covered. Now I am hoping she will choose some finance courses…