A friend mentioned a conversation with a young workmate where the subject of superannuation came up.
The young fellow, in his final year at high school, had no idea what my friend was talking about.
As he explained ‘super’ he mentioned compound interest, another thing the young bloke had never heard of.
So, after 12 years in the education system, preparing for life in the real world, this young bloke was blissfully ignorant of two of the most important concepts that would impact his life financially.
When asked what he was being taught, he said they were “learning about shapes”.
Now, shapes are great. Triangles, circles … the lot. They are excellent. I have fond memories of sorting all the shapes in the “attribute box” into areas formed by overlapping hula hoops to make giant Venn diagrams. But that was pretty early on.
High school maths was all about asymptotes, calculus and log tables.
When I was busted for wagging – to go and see a movie – detention with the “headmaster” included doing maths problems. The head pointed out that maths was a form of logical thinking.
It was a lightbulb moment – the hot incandescent kind, not the highly efficient LED kind. What a concept! Thinking logically and using reason to form arguments.
Around the same time, our furry economics teacher explained Australia’s monetary supply, demystified fractional banking and explained Australia’s system of bicameral representation.
Physics class was messing with magnets, motors and actual radioactive metals. More doing than listening.
Our witty history teacher gave a heads-up on the warning signs of fascism, and “isms” generally, and our sexy smart English teacher had us discussing books: some of which are now banned in major western democracies for content deemed inappropriate for young people, like To Kill a Mockingbird and 1984.
It was a regional government school with lots of newly minted teachers who did a fantastic job getting through my adolescent haze. And I thank them all.