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What to tell the kids

November 14th, 2008 at 04:43 pm

This month in Kiplinger's, Janet Bodnar wrote an article about how kids are going to be hearing all the doom and gloom of the financial news and the beginning of the article says that teachers should take this opportunity to teach the kids something about what is going on and why it happened. She says "in econ class, kids could debate the trade-off between recession and inflation.... In high school history classes, they could be discussing how Ben Bernanke & Co. have been greasing the skids with credit in order to avoid the mistakes of the Great Depression, when government sucked money out of the system. Middle school teachers, too, could inject a little financial literacy into social studies by pointing out that many consumers got in over their heads by borrowing easy money to buy houses they couldn't afford. And in math, students could use a compounding calculator ( to learn how it pays for young people, with decades to go before retirement, to buy stocks at today's fire-sale prices."

Stop right there. In MATH class they can learn how to use a COMPOUNDING CALCULATOR on a WEBSITE!?!? (nice plug for your own website, though.) What about teaching kids in math class how compounding works? What the formula is? How to figure different types of interest rates? How to figure different ways loans compound? How about teaching them how to make their own compounding spreadsheet, or amortization spreadsheet? How about teaching them how to THINK instead of how to look up on the internet someone else's solution?

Jeez. I didn't even read the rest of the article. I couldn't get past that comment.

4 Responses to “What to tell the kids”

  1. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    I'm sure you'd find a lot of agreement on that....You know what? I have a friend who grew up where girls were not allowed to go to school or taught to read at home. Yep, illiterate. But I've noticed it never squashed her ability to think and figure out number matters. She does not even know how to use a ruler, but she knows how to invent her own units of measure and has a fine memory to set those numbers into. So after measuring up my sofa with her hands, she can go home and sew a multi-piece slipcover for me. She's pretty good at finding the better bargains in stores if I will just read her the amount of product you get for a given price. This has further opened my eyes to how much we disable ourselves when it comes to math by thinking it is boring and that someone or something else should do the figuring.

  2. cptacek Says:

    When my youngest sister was in 4th grade, her teacher would start math class out by saying "I know you guys hate math, but we have to do it anyway." Talk about tanking the possibility to teach them something!

    It really bothers me that when people think of math that they think it is too hard or too boring. I was really good at math, so it is easy for me. But just last weekend, I was on a car trip with my parents and youngest brother and youngest sister. Sister is now a 7th grader. We thought we were going to be late, and there was a sign that said 51 miles to where we were going. My sister asked how long that would take, so I showed her how to figure it. We figured it if we were going 60 mph the whole way, 70 mph the whole way, or 70 mph for all but 5 miles and then 20 mph for those 5. By the third time we calculated it, she had it down. Later, she said I should be a math teacher because I explained it so she could understand, and her math teacher doesn't. Why is that?

    I also helped my youngest brother in high school geometry the other week. The problem was something about a giant sandwich someone made for the Guinness Book of World Records and they had to find the surface area of the sandwich, and the volume of the filling. I helped him work through it, and he got it just fine. Why didn't his teacher teach him that? I don't get it.

  3. jIM_Ohio Says:

    I don't want any teacher suggesting political or financial motives to kids- talk about corrupting youth.

    Most teachers I know could not explain compounding or investing.

    In addition I would think any political debate to people that young could not explain all sides- spend like a democrat to end recession or raise rates and not let the recession start and allow free market principles to take over.

  4. cptacek Says:

    I agree with you, Jim, but I think it is pretty sad that a math teacher couldn't explain compounding.

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