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It sure seems like something that would be a valuable life skill, akin to Home Ec (or even more important!)... Where I'm from (Peel Region in Ontario Canada), it isn't part of the curriculum.

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5 Answers 5

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In Houston, Texas USA where I went to a private high school they had a half-semester class in personal finance, but it was optional and didn't give you any credits towards graduation.

You are right though, it should be a standard class. After all, who doesn't need that information in their adult lives, and not everyone goes to college.

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The problem with making it "mandatory" is that it means there's something else that a really smart student will have to drop another, more useful or interesting, course for it. And chances are that they won't have much of a chance to apply it very much for the next four years or so. I'd rather see colleges make it a mandatory fractional-credit course that meets for 2-4 weeks out of the semester. Colleges have more scheduling flexibility like that. –  fennec Feb 26 '10 at 2:26
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True, but I'm sure there is some slack in the schedule somewhere. I mean, I had a mandatory 4 years of classes in English is High School after 6-9 mandatory years of it in primary school despite the fact that it is my first language. I'm sure they could spare at least one of those semesters for something that students will undoubtedly need to use later in life regardless of the career they choose. –  JohnFx Feb 26 '10 at 15:36
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Consider, also: Not everybody goes to college, but everybody could benefit from some basic financial literacy education. I think it could be fit in, along side a high school Economics curriculum, even. –  Chris W. Rea Mar 3 '10 at 12:40

Did a little bit of digging, and found this article, from Staples High School in Westport, Connecticut. Hopefully this will be a growing trend. They say:

A personal financial management class will now be offered at the beginning of the upcoming school year (2011-2012).

According to the course catalogue, the focus of this course will be using mathematics as a tool in developing financial literacy skills.

Topics covered in the course will include: earnings, banking, credit cards, loans, taxes, insurance, investing, loans, budgeting, and buying personal property.

“In a perfect world, everyone would be required to take a personal finance course,” Principal John Dodig said.

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It's not a full credit course but part time comic James Cunningham has speaking tour that promotes personal finance in high schools.

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In the UK there is a School Rewards System used in many schools to teach kids and teens about finance and economy. In the UK there is a framework for schools called "Every Child Matters" in which ‘achieving economic well-being’ is an important element. I think is important to offer to offer a real-life vehicle for financial learning beyond the theory.

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We had a "civics" class when I was a freshman in high school. This was in the Ann Arbor, MI public schools. It covered the very basics (how to balance your checkbook, what are stocks, how do income taxes work, what is interest, etc.) of money management along with an overview of politics and the legal system.

It was a really light class, though, and didn't go deeply into personal finance and money management. I agree that such a class would be very valuable, as would cooking, nutrition, and basic home and car repair.

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