Simon Read: Education about finance must be engaging for kids

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The Independent Online

The Prime Minister this week confirmed that financial education will be compulsory in English schools from September 2014.

David Cameron, pictured, said: "It's really important, this."

Look, I don't agree with much that Mr Cameron says, but about this I do. If we can teach kids about basic finance and budgeting, that will stand them in good stead when they need it later in life.

But, and this is a big but, it needs to engage them. If finance becomes simply another boring lesson to snooze through, then we'll have failed our kids.

That means making it come alive. Having done several talks to schoolchildren, I know they are much more interested in knowing how to afford the latest computer game than being told the way to calculate compound interest. (Actually, that's not strictly true. They were most interested in finding out how much a journalist earns. And that's a lot less than most people presume these days.)

So when the finance lessons are drawn up, I trust the educators use common sense to ensure that kids are given lessons which will help them through their financial path in life, not just a series of facts and figures that could help them to pass an exam.

To paraphrase Mr Gradgrind in Dicken's Hard Times: now, what I want is financial fun, not facts.

We have a crucial opportunity to ensure the next generation leaves school with decent financial know-how. That could lead to a generation that doesn't fall into debt.

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