The elementary school math no one is learning


Altering the approach to higher education and expectations after college could increase success in an ever-changing world.

Parents and professionals are worried about the statistics for college graduates and what that means for the current educational processes.

Gregory Downing is a motivational speaker and author of several books geared towards raising children to be successful members of society in this economically unsteady age.

Mr. Downing  discussed his keys for raising an entrepreneurial child and the benefits that this changing mindset will have on the future generations.

“I worked for corporate America, and the closer to the top I got, the closer to the door I felt.”

Real estate was a popular market for entrepreneurship in the past decade, and Downing believes it is still a great place to consider starting a business.

“I would say real estate is still a good idea because that is what I make most of my money in,” Downing said. “It doesn’t matter if the market is flat or booming, you just have to understand the cycle.”

According to Mr. Downing, in a society shifting towards entrepreneurship, a change in education is the next logical step.

“I think there is a big shift towards trade schools, but I don’t think that is the answer,” Downing said. “We just need to reform education as it is now.  Our education system today is geared towards the industrial age, the country hasn’t evolved.”

Mr Downing acknowledged not everyone can be an entrepreneur. Employees will always be necessary to keep the businesses running and functioning daily.

“You have to start these businesses with the intention of not being the person that runs it everyday for the rest of your life,” Downing said. “If you create something different that serves more needs, makes life simpler, is a great business idea. Being an entrepreneur is a mindset as well as a practice.”

Debi Jones is a Junior Achievement Instructor teaching financial literacy in local Utah high schools. Through her experience with these students she has come to startling conclusions.

“It’s not just kids that are financially illiterate, it’s a good portion of Americans in general and parents are responsible,” Jones said. “You can’t expect children to learn and understand these principles if their parents aren’t practicing them.”

One of the illustrations she puts up for her class is the following statistic:

“In the last 15 years credit has increased by 167% and in 2009 American’s savings was at -2%,” Jones said. “Students quickly see the problem with those numbers.”

Katey Jones is an accounting major from Salt Lake City and Debi Jones’ daughter. She firmly believes her financial success is a direct result of the way she was raised.

“I grew up thinking that it was common sense, you save and only spend the money you have,” Katey said. “But after being in school and around other people, I realized it’s not.”

Katey gave a great example of how higher education institutions are not preparing their students for real life.

“I’m a finance major but there are no personal finance classes required in my program,” Katey said. “People graduate and can manage the funds of a large corporation and are completely lost when it comes to their own.”

The general sentiment is financial education needs to first start in the home through parental examples, be reinforced during all levels of education and finally, practiced in real life.

“Personal finance is elementary level math, we just need to be educated consumers,” Jones said. “It’s not about how much you make, it’s how you manage what you make.”


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