Sun. Jul 14th, 2024
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    [Midweek thoughts]

    Some of my friends mention that school should have taught them life skills like paying tax, stock trading etc. Truth is school is there to introduce you to concepts. It is up to you to look for further knowledge on how to apply them. Some people who learnt about a grasshopper’s thorax or horse anatomy are our veterinary surgeons today.

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    Others argue that school should have been more focused to what they liked instead of doing everything. When I was 15, I had no idea what I really wanted to dedicate the rest of my life to and school was there to give me a broad and basic exposure to different career paths. In later years of high school, you can choose your focus areas because you would have at least seen what else is out there. I wasn’t great in accounting or the arts (I absolutely admire people who create movies especially when they explain how they shot movie scenes for example the rooftop scene where Neo dodges bullets from one of the agents in the movie The Matrix – such creativity). I was strong in Maths and Sciences.

    What I will concede first is that many students look at just attaining a grade but cannot see the knowledge behind what they are studying and how it applies in the grand scheme of things. This could be because of the way we assess “knowledge acquisition” and we might need a different methodology to do so. Some subjects I learnt in high school eg History or Geography that I didn’t end up focusing on come up regularly in normal conversations and I can participate even though I focused on Maths, Physics and Chemistry. I know about Mapungubwe, Timbaktu, Alexandria, Great Zimbabwe so when someone says Africa was a dark continent, I can provide some facts, albeit basic ones, around their economic, social, and political structures. One would fail History where I studied in Zimbabwe if one didn’t know when FRELIMO, the liberation war movement in Mozambique, a totally different country, was founded, where, why, how they freed their country, when, and how they supported other SADC countries. If my school was too focused, I would not have had exposure to these topics.

    If many of us were taught how to do our taxes back in high school, we would have either bunked the class or flunked it because it wasn’t practical to learn at the time and wouldn’t be for more than a decade. Accounting topics teach you high level details around taxation anyway and it is up to an individual to build on that basic knowledge taught. Look at Life Orientation in South Africa. It teaches topics such as contraception but sadly SA still has one of the highest number of people with HIV in the world. People learn LO some say just to get the free A+ but don’t seem to be putting that knowledge to practice. Same might apply if we had been taught in high school how to log onto SARS eFiling and file our taxes.

    How many have registered into Udemy courses to acquire some of that extra knowledge not taught in formal schools? If you have not registered yourself into a stock trading online course for R100 which is way cheaper than a normal school, you still wouldn’t have done it if it was offered in high school or taken it seriously. When you need the extra income now, why are you not putting effort to acquire it? Imagine there was an exam asking you about GTC, MKT etc and you are 13 years old! I have a high level understanding of bull and bear markets because school taught me those basics – it is up to me to build on that knowledge and dig deep into the detail of what those green and red bars are and what they mean. Aren’t we asking to be taught to be CFAs when we’re still in school?

    I’ll concede as a second point that some countries have done focused studying successfully.

    [End thoughts]

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