Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, meaning extraordinarily good or wonderful (Oxforddictionaries.com, 2018), that’s what came to my mind when I spent a day at the work with 9 to 12 years old kids, discussing how the world of investment, insurance and pension works.

The word ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious ‘ word is from the famous film, Mary Poppins, the film is set in Edwardian London, 1910. In the film, at the suggestion of Mary Poppins (a magical nanny), Mr Banks takes his children to his workplace, the Dawes Tomes Mousley Grubbs Fidelity Fiduciary Bank. In an attempt to get Michael (his son) to put his tuppence in a savings account, all the staff (including the bank’s owner, Mr Dawes) sing about the benefits of saving, arguing that  “If you invest your tuppence wisely in the bank/Safe and sound/Soon that tuppence safely invested in the bank/Will compound”. An excellent way to explain the compound interest. Despite this advice, and to the disgust of his father, Michael decides to give his money to an elderly lady who feeds the birds. (Patridge, 2018). As Einstein said, those who understand compound interest earns it, he who doesn’t pays it. During the elaborate song-and-dance routine, bank staff explains about investment and risk management. I didn’t sing or dance (sadly) but I discussed about savings, investment, insurance and pension with primary school children.

HowtoSavings

I had two leadership challenges set for myself, the first challenge was to reach out to five primary schools and engage with them on financial education. The second challenge was to engage with three stakeholders groups at my new work place on sustainability. Regarding my first challenge, I found it hard to engage with the schools. Despite my initial plan to work through the charity I have been involved for last 4 years, I received more than dozen reasons why I should not engage with the schools on financial education. As Mary Poppins says, ‘ Anything can happen if you let it’. Through my current organisation I got the opportunity to engage with Guy Fox charity who creates innovative activities and publications that encourage children to explore the world.  My organisation works with them to create contents on, ‘How the world really works – Savings, Investment and Pensions’. Additionally, I managed to engage with two of the schools where my children go. They agreed with me to provide 1-2 sessions on financial education per year to the primary school. I had my first session at both the schools where I played the financial education game designed specifically to teach about borrowing and savings. It didn’t take a long for children to realise that spending on credit card may bring momentary happiness but it takes lot longer to pay while savings requires disciplined/firm approach but in long run it accumulates. I am now working towards second session where I could borrow from the behavioural science and prepare fun contents that resonate with them. In Mary Poppins words, ‘Every job that must be done, there is an element of fun, snap, job is a game.’

In regards to my second challenge, I have engaged with three different stakeholder groups on sustainability. As Dan Pink mentions in his book Drive, one of key motivator is sense of common purpose beyond the day to day tasks, through focus on the shared purpose. As shown in the end of the Mary Poppins as an uplifting scene, The Banks family, reunited and refocused, head out all together to fly Michael’s kite. The family sing together of rebuilding the kite and as they create with simple materials they are all focused on a shared purpose. I will end my blog on that final song, ‘Let’s go fly a kite’, (Mary Poppins, 1964)

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

  1. Thanks so much for providing insight into the positives and difficulties in achieving your personal challenges. It does seem silly that it is so difficult to teach children in a formal manner about financial education and yet you could tie it to so many areas of the curriculum that it would benefit all parties. I know that some people would say its the parents responsibility but clearly based on the number of folks who have difficulty managing their finances in their adult lives there is a need in the younger school years. Out of interest I’m a trained High School teacher and as part of my prac teaching sessions I had to prepare some classes in the area of Legal Studies – no problems with that except I had to run sessions on the divorce process in relation to the court system in Australia….surely if we can teach about the divorce process we would be many times better off to teach about financial literacy (and perhaps prevent some of the divorces from occurring due to money issues). Keep flying your kite as there will always be a gust of wind somewhere to help you achieve your take off !

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  2. Hi Nirav,

    Thank you for sharing the high and lows which you experienced whilst trying to promote financial education in schools.

    It is sad to hear that you faced some hurdles in doing so when financial education should, in my view, definitely have an official place on primary schools’ curricula.

    If each financial institution in the City of London sent at least a couple of people to carry out a similar exercise with local primary schools regularly, a true difference could definitely be made. It may be a bit more difficult to reach the rest of the UK though unless these institutions give their employees the time to do so and cover the cost of travel.

    The levels of personal and household debt has reached sky high levels in the UK making the financial education of children even more crucial. A quick Google search came up with the following charity: Step Change (https://www.stepchange.org/policy-and-research/personal-debt-statistics-in-the-uk.aspx) which seems to provide advice and support on how to manage debt issues. However, they do not seem to have any specific programme for the financial education of children. It may be worth approaching them.

    I also found this highly interesting report. https://themoneycharity.org.uk/financial_education_schools/ which includes some interesting findings such as “the vast majority of teachers believe that their schools do not currently have the expertise to do this” (i.e. deliver financial education), “Pupils learn about personal finance better from speakers with specialist knowledge”, “teachers believe schools have responsibility for financial education, second only to parents” and “making financial education part of an examined subject would do more to push it up school leaderships’ agenda than anything else”.

    The report lists the following barriers:
    Barrier 1: Low prioritisation of financial education
    Barrier 2: A lack of clear leadership
    Barrier 3: Pressure from exams and Ofsted to focus on other subjects
    Barrier 4: Teachers do not have the skills they need
    Barrier 5: Inadequate resources

    The report also highlights the role of policymakers. “If policymakers and school leaders wish to improve the delivery of financial education, teachers call for greater practical help: more resources like lesson plans and the funding for direct delivery of financial education by outside experts”.

    Best of luck with this very laudable project Nirav and well done on your progress so far!

    Marie

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  3. I really liked your post, especially since Mary Poppins is my favourite Disney (along with Lilo and Stich but this is another story !) It always makes me see life in a good way !
    For Christmas, my mum bought me a book by a philosophy teacher, Marianne Chaillan, about the different philosophies which can be found in Disney movies. I never thought of bringing together Platon and Beauty and the Beast but she does it perfectly ! (She also wrote “Game of Thrones, a metaphysics of murder” !)
    She says that it is never too early to say essential things to kids. Such is the power of tales beautifully brought to the screen by Disney : to deliver lessons of wisdom while marveling.
    In one of my first jobs, I travelled through a Pacific island to meet kids and tell them about renewable energies and energy management. If you speak to them in an easy, clear and fun way, they are truly able to grasp difficult subjects !
    I never thought of speaking to kids about finance but this is actually very useful, much more than learning latin ! We just assume grown ups know about money but most of the time, we don’t !
    I worked for a bank as a renewable energy advisor but I am still unable to understand the papers that my banker sends me for me to sign. I just trust him, which is a reason that led to the 2008 crisis.
    So, well done for this great initiative and also well done for the school director who let you do this ! It takes a lot of judgement to not speak to kids as if they were only little persons but to recognise that they are grown ups to be. Their brains is way more flexible than ours and it’s important to sow seeds that will help them live in a sustainable way !

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  4. Thank you very much for your comments. I am glad you brought up an interesting point about if this is parents responsibility. Some of the research do indicate that children do get influenced by parents on their savings and spending habits. But as you said, much needed financial education is required in the less affluent families who struggles with debts and have poor knowledge about their finances. I would look forward to discuss your experience at the school to learn from it at the next workshop.

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  5. Great post, thanks for sharing. Anything Mary poppies related is good with me (can’t wait for the new film version to be released soon).

    Totally agree about the need for financial education in schools. Only if people understand how the system works, how their money is invested and how this impacts the world around them can they begin to invest sustainably. Unfortunately all too few people have any idea. This leads to a lack of demand for green financial products and, in consequence, a lack of supply. It also means there is a lack of accountability on the finance sector to be sustainable. The truth is you can do an economics degree and still have little idea of how the system works. In my view financial education should be taught as standard in schools. I wish you all the very best in yo ur leadership challenge, it is very much needed.

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