Sam Dunn: Teach our kids a lesson that's worth learning of the class

It has never taken much to tempt young people to talk about money
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The Independent Online

Without fail, I would gaze out of dusty windows in physics lessons. My school was perched on a hill and the science lab afforded a magnificent view across the whole of south Bristol.

But that wasn't what drew my attention - rather, my daydreaming was prompted by a lack of desire to learn about Boyle's law or any other law of physics. The subject always seemed complex and unrelated to any aspect of my teenage life.

I may have been depriving myself of a valuable part of my education, but for today's pupils, it transpires that boredom in the classroom is a bonus.

According to a handful of delegates at this year's annual conference of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, if pupils get a hefty dose of ennui during lessons they will be better prepared for the drudgery that awaits them in adult life.

One delegate even suggested that boredom in class can help stimulate creativity as it encourages pupils to dream up ways to alleviate their apathy.

I hope those thrashing out the latest plans to put personal finance education on to the National Curriculum (see page 28) don't take such ideas too much to heart. Any notion that money management is a boring subject needs to be kept firmly in check.

The exact shape the personal finance element of our National Curriculum will ultimately take is still under discussion, but one thing it doesn't need right now is the suggestion that it's OK to be mediocre or monotonous.

Over the next 18 months, the educational charity Pfeg will be training teachers to deliver lessons in personal finance. All being well, this should lead to a much wider take-up of the subject in our schools.

When they think of it all, many people still think of personal finance in the same way as I once thought of physics: a boring and complicated subject. They cannot imagine it being turned into lessons just as lively as those promoting drug awareness or sex education.

But think of the groundbreaking changes to our pensions saving regime, the dangers of credit card binges and soaring bank-ruptcies (to name just a few rather pressing concerns), and such attitudes can be seen to be highly irrational.

It has never taken much to tempt youngsters to talk about money: making it, borrowing it, using it, losing it and more. So an enlightened educational policy that digs deep into the subject - in a colourful but credible manner - should reap huge rewards, inspiring young people to deal confidently with cash in all its forms.

Those lucky enough to have been taught any subject at school by an inspirational teacher will remember the impact this can have. In years to come, today's pupils might look back with gratitude on their personal finance lessons.

Broadband battles

The Carphone Warehouse caused a commotion with its free broadband deal last week.

Tens of thousands rushed to take advantage, the company later reported. But anybody wanting to change their broadband provider - or taking out the service for the first time - should probably wait to see what other deals emerge over the next few weeks.

Rival companies will no doubt hit back swiftly, and the price war promises to be as bloody as they get. If you can, hold off before you board the latest broadband bandwagon.

s.dunn@independent.co.uk

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