August 18, 2010, 5:00 am

School Shows You How To Be Poor

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Personal Finance
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Danielle over at Go Banking Rates had the great idea of pinging several bloggers and asking them to write about wealth and education. The funniest part is that; while I see the link between education and wealth, I don’t see it between school and wealth! So if you are born to poor parents, who is going to teach you to be rich? (beside famous Ramit Sethi of course 😉 ). But seriously, why doesn’t school teach our kids how to become rich? More importantly, why does school teach our kids to be poor instead?

School teaches children to be poor? Really? YUP! How? Here’s how:

#1 School teaches about absolute rules

As Moses did with the 10 commandments, school is approaching our kids with their absolute set of rules. They teach you that rules can’t be broken. Worse, they teach you that rules cannot be bent or overlooked either.

I’m not telling you that you need to be illegal to become rich. In fact, I think the complete opposite. I think that laws are made to be followed and that you should not mess with the legal aspect of your work or business. However, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have the right to outsmart people and use rules to your advantage, after all; if you want to win the game you have to know the rules.

Corporations have been created this way. It is much easier to create wealth through a corporation than by making money with a normal job with bi-weekly paychecks. How come? Because corporations spend money before paying taxes while you pay taxes first and have only the rest deal with after ;-).

#2 School teaches common social behaviours and makes it the norm

Our society is nothing more than a bundle of perceived actions that are socially acceptable. At a very young age, we have been drilled about those ideas of what society expects from us; to become a good worker that pay his taxes. In the meantime, if you want to become rich, nobody at school is telling you what to do. You will only learn to become a good student that follow the rules who will ultimately become another “good employee”.

Who told you that you have to work 5 days a week to get a job? Who told you that you can’t have 2 income sources without burning out sooner or later? Who told you that you need to become a manager to make money? School did.

I actually work 4 days a week and earn a 6 figure income. I run an online company on the side and I have more free time than I have ever had (especially compared to the moment where I was being a good employee working 5 days a week and doing my MBA to become a manager ;-). And finally, I make more than my manager by working 25 hours a week less… All that because I didn’t listen to what they told me at school.

#3 School is shutting off your brain and teaches you to become a good lemming

“shut up and follow”, that is probably the best advice to give to you kid if you want him to be loved by his teacher and to get good grades. However, you will, then again, reinforce the idea that following everybody will make him a good individual in our society.

We obviously prefer people that don’t make noise and that don’t challenge our perceptions of life. However, those are the ones who really see how the system works and how they can take advantage of it.

There is little to no place for creativity and challenging ideas in school while they are probably the 2 most important activities that will generate ways to make more money faster and easier. Don’t work harder, work smarter. If someone tells you that something requires 1 hour to do, it is probably because there is a way to take half of this time to do it!

If you let yourself follow all the other lemmings buying plasma tvs, going south for vacation each year, buying a huge house and driving a brand new car, you will also be part of the same group who is struggling to pay off their debt. Definitely, following everybody off the cliff into the hole of debt won’t do any good.

What school should teach your kids

Instead of trying to manufacture a series of good workers, school should put the emphasis on creating individuals:

–         Capable of making their own decisions and opinions without having to see what the others will do.

–         Capable of finding other solutions than the “one right way” of doing something.

–         That use their common sense when someone tells them “this is the rule” and to try to find another way to do it.

In the end, I definitely think that school is a good place to learn basic stuff about languages and math, to know that it is freezing at the North Pole and that the right place to be on vacation is in the Caribbean. But I don’t think that school is fit yet to teach our kids how to become wealthy and financially independent individuals. What do you think?

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Truth to some of your points, but not all. The education system has undergone large reforms since you were in school and the replacement of the curriculum with each new government elected. I’m a teacher myself, and one of the few who consider their own financial planning without depending on the pension people to sort it all out for me.

Consider these points:
-The absolute rules/do as you’re told education system is even more strictly adhered to in Asia society (I have taught there too) than in N.America. Explain how it led China to double digit growth? – Obedient workers.

-Absolute rules are necessary. Like, don’t kill other people for example. We can’t spend pensions from the grave.

-If everyone was creative and became managers, there would be no one to manage.

– If everyone earned six-digit growth, we would have massive inflation

-If everyone invested and managed money wisely, none of us would be able to afford many of the investments we currently own. Simple supply and demand.

-The difference between school and employment is that poor performance gets you fired in the real world. Assuming you are employed you’ve already been sorted out in a Huxlian fashion into a career that you can manage to do. In school, a teacher must manage future managers, athletes, musicians, trades people, drug dealers, prostitutes, bankers, artists, etc. all in one venue. Absolute rules must be followed if any sense of order is to be achieved with a 1:30 ratio.

What you claim school should teach your kids I believe that parents should be teaching their kids. They are the best teacher they will ever have. A teacher may only spend 10 months with a child, but a parent spends a lifetime. How many of them are able to make it to high school not knowing how to read escapes me.

100% agree with everything you said. It looks like you just finished the book Rich Dad Poor Dad like I just did.

I suffered during the transition from school to work (and still do, I’m 25 and 2 years out of University) due to many of the issues you touched on here. Drew brings up an interesting point though, in that if you were taught how to do these things in school, you would not be able to separate yourself from the crowd.

So, on one hand I am frustrated that my absolute rules, social norms and lemming like behaviour haven’t helped me succeed as of yet, I am also happy that through the influence around me (my girlfriend, blog sites) I have been able to take steps to make myself successful in the future. If everyone learned how to manage their personal finance like I have over the past 2-3 years, I would not be better off than most 25 year olds, I would be average.

I don’t know the answer, but it would certainly be interesting if we learned these things in school. To separate yourself from this new educated crowd you would have to out-smart them in other ways to maintain the same separation!

Ha! you should have spent most of your time in the hall like I did.

Surprisingly the really smart people have a difficult time in school. They drop out a lot.

It’s like feeding an elephant a blade of grass at a time. Everyone gets frustrated and the elephant starves.

by: The Financial Blogger | August 19th, 2010 (7:47 am)

@ Rachelle,
I’ve spent a lot of time playing tetrinet (Tetris online with 5 other players)…. a lot of fun 😉

Great post! I find it interesting that most personal finance bloggers have a negative view of education, especially college. They seem to think its a waste of money. Your viewpoint comes from a whole different angle. Love it!

by: The Financial Blogger | August 19th, 2010 (2:38 pm)

Hey Drew,

I really like your points. In fact it is funny how we need school to be the way it is but if you want to make real money, you won’t learn anything about it in school. Thus, we need this kind of education to have a balanced workforce 😉

@ Ray,

I actually read Rich Dad, Poor Dad but several years ago. While there is a lot of koolaid in it, there are also brillant ideas such as creating assets and focus on your work instead of following blindly our system rules.

@ Patrick,

I guess I would like to see school telling their students that outsmarting people is a good thing. Teachers usually don’t appreciate to be outsmart 😉

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hmmmm….perhaps I had a different education experience than you? Yes, in high school, those 3 points apply. In university though — *that* challenged me to think for myself, and be creative with my solutions… think outside the box and yet stay within the legal parameters, which sounds more like the way of thinking you’re inferring.

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