Why the Education System is Broke

Why the Education System is BrokeSo yesterday one of my friends that I currently work with came into my office to talk business (as well as to chit-chat a little bit).  In the midst of our conversation, he mentioned how his young twin boys are starting to understand the general concept of working.

As a side note, he’s the only one at my office who really knows about this site (and he reads it)… so he’s probably going to throw a rock at me for bringing him into a post, but hey, what are friends for?!  😉

Anyway, he said the conversation between them went something like this:

Boys:  Dad, where are you going?
Dad:  I have to go to work.
Boys:  Why do you have to go to work?
Dad:  If I don’t go to work, then we won’t have any money.  You need to go to work every day so you can make money to pay for things like a house, food, or toys.

Now let’s step back on this.  First of all, this was just meaningless conversation with his kids that makes you want to smile – I totally love to see kids as they start to understand how something works.

However, in this case, I didn’t nod along as he told this to me.  I should have because he’s a friend of mine and was just telling me a fun story of how his morning went.  But instead, I started to rant about how this is the reason why the cycle continues.  Kids are taught by their parents to work hard and get a job so they can afford what they need.

Believe me when I say this, I have nothing against hard work.  I’ve worked hard my whole life and always try to do the best I can at whatever job I’ve had.  But the only way you can break the cycle is to better understand the system and go against the grain of what the majority of other people are doing.

I know there are a lot of reasons that contribute to the education system not being what it should be, but here’s one major problem…

Schools prepare kids to become good employees and not entrepreneurs.

I’ve talked before about how Robert Kiyosaki’s books and viewpoints have been a real eye-opener for me.  One of the big points he talks about is that the education system isn’t designed to teach kids how to create jobs.  And he’s right… kids are taught how to become another ant in the hill and just get a job and work every day until becoming an old man or woman.

Most schools in the education system don’t focus on the bigger picture.  It’s bad enough that the schools don’t teach kids how to budget, balance their checkbooks, save money, and invest.  But shouldn’t they help push kids to start businesses and create jobs?  Life is already so lopsided with the vast majority of wealth being in the hands of so few and innovators being hard to come by.  Teaching kids to become leaders and entrepreneurs could help shift that balance and help rebuild a country.

Please know that I think an education is critical in every child’s life.  A lot of people judge teachers and say they’re overpaid because they only work nine months out of the year, but I’m in the other camp.  I think teachers have one of the hardest jobs out there and most of them care about what they are doing and do a fantastic job.

The problem is not the teachers or the schools – the problem is the education system.

I went down the road that a lot of us go down and became just another one of those ants in the ant hill until I woke up one day.  I am eternally grateful that I get it now.  I understand how to get out of the rat race and I’m making it happen.  Unfortunately, it took me too long to get it.  I want to make sure that my daughter figures it out much earlier than I did.

In fact, I’ve made it my mission to teach her what I can.  Although I’m on track to retire before 50, I keep pushing to do more things so I can lead by example.  That’s a huge reason why I’m on the hunt for a new rental property.  She’s only five, but I explain what I’m doing and why (in simple terms).  She knows that even though we’re spending a lot of money for an investment property, we will make more than we pay on it every month.

As she gets older, I’ll continue to her secondary education – I’ll explain why this is a passive income stream, how our payment stays the same while rents will continue to increase over the years, how the mortgage will end and the rent payments will continue, the tax benefits, etc.  And, possibly just as important, I’ll explain how we’re providing a place for people to live who can’t afford to buy a house (or don’t want to) and treating them fairly.

And rental properties will only be part of the education.  We’ll talk about other streams of passive income, starting businesses that create jobs, and making her dreams a reality instead of a Time to Make the Donuts kind-of-daydream while being stuck in the rat race.

So, should I have just smiled and nodded when my friend told me the story about the morning with his kids?  Maybe, but I like him too much for that.

Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

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8 thoughts on “Why the Education System is Broke”

  1. Jim, just came across your site and liking it a lot! I’m in complete agreement with you around our broken education system. My wife is a school teacher and agrees. But, it’s such an ingrained way of living these days that the average kid will always think you need to trade time for money.

    I don’t think it’s necessarily a huge issue when they’re very young, but I plan to expose my kids to different options as they grow up will help to expand their view of what’s really possible with a little leverage and creativity. Likewise, I intend on teaching them about managing money at an early age so it’s like driving a car once they’re ready to fly the coup!

    1. Thanks, Michael! I like your ideas and for now, teaching our children about money ourselves is all we can do. Hopefully one day money will be a bigger part of the curriculum in schools.

      — Jim

  2. I would agree to a certain point. It, I think, depends on what level you are talking about. I mean our universities are the envy of the world. We need more improvement certainly in elementary and secondary education, but not all is lost. I do think some of this falls on the parents as well and other people. We have now made school nothing but taking a test. Creativity and recess go out the door. If we are so hung up on STEM subjects I fear what may happen further.

    1. I do agree that we have some great universities out there. My concern is that you can leave these places with a fantastic education, but still have no real applicable financial knowledge – how to balance your checkbook, how to invest your money, the difference between good debt and bad, and so on. You’re right that a lot of the schools teach you to focus on test-taking instead of collaboration and creativity… it’s not good prep for the real world.

      I also concur that a lot of this falls on the parents. Not to make excuses though, a lot of parents don’t have these skills either, so they just pass on what they know (and the cycle continues). I know that if I had relied on my parents for a financial education, I’d be in a world of hurt. I was very lucky that I happened across some people that DO understand what you should be doing and was able to change my ways (see Get Out of Debt ASAP!!!).

      — Jim

  3. As a teacher, I wish I could disagree. We do offer personal finance, but I wish we had more. Personally, I do a couple of practical lessons within my social studies classes which I call “real life learning”. Some lessons deal with personal finance, others deal with creativity and public speaking as well as how to apply for a job. Unfortunately, while these are necessary skills, they sometimes get lost in the mix.

    1. It’s a tough mission because the folks in the education system are just like a lot of us – they don’t know about personal finance themselves. It’s just like a parent that doesn’t know enough on the subject – they can really teach their kids what they don’t know.

      I love to hear though when folks like you are squeezing in a little bit into some of your classes. Thanks for doing what you do, Dave – I know being a teacher’s not the easiest job!

      — Jim

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