Can most high school graduates understand investing in Digital Coins?

Is investing in Digital Coins a good investment?  Or would I have better luck “investing” my money playing Vegas casino online real money games?  Are current high schoolers prepared to understand investing in Digital Coins?

I am thinking about this, because I had just finished helping / teaching a 9th grader how to create a high school homeschool curriculum and submit the appropriate documents.  Then on top of that I read an article on the website foxnews.com called “Virginia teachers fire back after school district mulls implementing more ‘equitable’ grading system”.  And then there is California changing its math requirements for high schoolers.

So how does all of this relate to us here?  If what the Virginia Board of Education proposal spreads to a majority of school districts around the nation, the days of teachers having kids “mock invest” in stocks, bonds, and in today’s society, Digital Coins — then record their gains and losses (in monopoly money) to help understand how the market works — would be gone.

Projects like that are long term homework assignments.  Or they were extra credit projects.  Or they were what separated the “academic” or “regular” level course from the Advanced or Accelerated or Honors course.  If a student does not get a reward for spending their time and energy learning about the digital coin market, why would they bother?  It is not as if they can exchange any monopoly money profits into real money.  So what happens then?  Do these “kids” invest with real money for the very first time when they are adults and the losses are losses with real money?

Yes, the could have gains, but I am stating the only the negative in order to emphasize the importance of money education (consumer education) in a high school education.  If a person invests in Digital Coins with no understanding of the Digital Coin market, it is no different than using an online gambling site as a way to “invest” their money.  And yes, I do believe that even investing in the traditional stock market when do you do not have a true understanding of how the stock market works is another version of reckless gambling.

What happened to money education?  Why was it taken out of the curriculum?

In some ways I understand the whole concept of wanting the kids to be exposed to calculus in high school, so they will have the skills to do STEM (or STEAM) jobs in college.  But let’s face it.  Which statement is more true?

  1. The student will use calculus mathematics as an adult or
  2. The student will use money mathematics as an adult
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Did you guess “B”?  If you did, then are right.  Every adult has to understand the mathematics of money, but not every adult has to understand the calculus mathematics.  And I am not even talking about the complexities of trying to understanding the Digital Coin Market.

In the 1800s, a mathematical textbook called Ray’s Asthmatic, were popular textbooks.  This textbook series differs from today’s textbooks in that the whole entire textbook is almost exclusively work problems, with a majority of them being word problems that a person would need in their adult life.  Yes, in today’s society we are not dealing with cows and acres of land and we are not exchanging barrels of flour for bushels for pecks of apples, but these are tangible objects that a student can understand.

As opposed to exchanging X Moon Sacks for Y BitCoins.  What is a Moon Sack?  What is a BitCoin?  But talk about flour and apples — that I can understand.  Once you understand the math of exchanging barrels of flour for pecks of apples, it becomes easy to exchange X Moon Sacks for Y BitCoins.

Let’s look at the money education that was taught to kids in middle school (6th grade and 8th grade) in the 1800s and ask ourselves if that education is still valid today.  6th grade (Ray’s Practical Arithmetic) is easier and 8th grade (Ray’s Higher Arithmetic) gets more complicated.

  1. United States Money
  2. Merchant’s Bills (receipts)
  3. Percentages
    • Merchandise transactions
    • Commission of sales
    • Trade discount (wholesale discount)
    • Profit and loss
    • Stock and Bond Transactions
    • Brokerage
    • Assessments and dividends
    • Stock Values
    • Stock Investments
  4. Interest
    • Simple Interest
    • Compound Interest
    • Annual Interest
    • Partial Payments
  5. Discounts
    • Bank Discount (bank notes or bank loans)
    • True Discount
  6. Exchange
    • Foreign Exchange (one currency to another currency) — Digital coins would follow the same concept
  7. Insurance
    • Fire and Marine Insurance
    • Life Insurance
    • Health Insurance (not included in Ray’s Asthmatic, but would fit in this topic)
  8. Taxes
    • State and local taxes (includes property taxes)
    • Internal Revenue (income taxes)
    • Duties and customs (buying products internationally)
  9. Proportion and business investment
    • Simple proportion
    • Compound proportion
    • Partnership
    • Bankruptcy
    • Partnership with time
    • Payments

Everything that is on that list are items that would still be taught today.  The numbers would be much higher today, but the mathematics would still be the same.

Where is Consumer Education?

In the school district where I went to high school, Consumer Education was a graduation requirement.  But most high schools have no graduation requirements for consumer education.

  1. How a savings account work. How a checking account work.
  2. How debit cards work.  How credit cards work.  How prepaid debit cards work.
  3. How store cards work.
  4. Health insurance.   How copay works.  How discount health plans work.
  5. Homeowner’s Insurance. Renter’s insurance.  Fire insurance.  Flood insurance.  What is included and not included in standard plans.
  6. How auto insurance works.
  7. Student loans and college financial aid.
  8. How to create a budget.
  9. How stocks and bonds work.  How the Digital Coin Market works.
  10. How to watch commercials  (What are they telling you. What are they not telling you.)
  11. How to read ads (What are they telling you.  What are they not telling you.)
  12. How to do research about a product before buying it.
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I am probably missing some major topics, but you get the general idea.  After the housing bust around 2007, everybody was pointing at fingers at each other, trying to figure who to blame for the housing bust.  But nobody talk about the teachers and lack of consumer education and money education in our public schools.  Teaching high schoolers the mathematics of money would be the best approach to help prevent future false bubbles, but it was the one area that nobody talked about.

Let’s look at current changes in Public School Education

No late penalties for late homework

When I was in school, most regular everyday homework assignments were just marked 1 pt for attempting the homework and zero points if you did not attempt the homework.  Essays and reports were obviously given a grade and worth more since more time was invested.

Students are no longer allowed extra credit

There are two teachers in high school that I will never forget.  My computer programming teacher believed, “Getting a program to work was worth a ‘C’.  Doing everything else that is involved in creating software project is the difference between a ‘C’ and an ‘A’.”  My consumer education teacher believed that just doing the regular homework and tests was worth a ‘B’.  In order to get an ‘A’, you had to do something ‘extra’.

Maybe you agree with that philosophy.  Maybe you do not.  But I think that it made me a better person overall.

Allow unlimited redoes of assignments

In my computer programming class, the teacher would not allow the student to move onto the next assignment until the student was able to complete the previous assignment.  Since every topic built on previous topics, if a person did not fully understand the previous topic, how can advance to the next topic?

The advantage of that philosophy is that when you complete the projects in the book, you really know the material.  The disadvantage is that during the next school, half of the class finished the whole textbook from the previous class and half of the class only completed chapter 5 of the previous textbook.

So this is one of those areas that has its pros and cons, and if it should be implemented or not implemented would depend on the type of class.  Although, if you follow the Maria Montessori philosophy, she believes in skill based grading.  The student is graded along the following scale:

  1. Topic introduced.
  2. Topic is being worked on.
  3. Student says the topic is mastered.
  4. Teacher says the topic is mastered (teacher tests or grades the student).

There is no A, B, C, D, or F, because either the student has mastered the topic or the student has not mastered the topic.  There is no in between.

Elimination of Grading of homework

Is this a good idea? This would depend on what type of homework we are talking about.  Are we talking about math?  You either have to grade math, in order for the student to know they did something wrong and fix it.  Or else you have to work through the homework problems in class together.  But something like history reports or essays have to be graded.

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Another option could be to do the inverse classroom, where the “homework” is the lesson on video, and the class time is more like a tutoring session where the teacher is available to help answer questions.  But some will claim that some students will be able to watch the videos while others will not be able to.

Is California’s new math sequence a good or bad idea?

Some call California’s new Math sequence, called Mathematics Framework, a good idea while others call it a bad idea.  Some even nickname it Woke Mathematics.  But is this name really deserved?

Before California changed their math sequence, there were a lot of schools, especially is high minority (Black or Hispanic) populations where a majority of the students did not even take Algebra 2.  So obviously something needed to be changed, but did the changes that California do make things better or make things worse.

There are two philosophies.  The first is all students should take calculus in 12th grade.  In order to achieve that, Algebra 1 should be completed by the end of 8th grade.  Even if a person is headed for engineering, do they necessarily need to complete calculus by 12th grade?

California STEM Path of Mathematics

STEM interested students are prepared for the mathematics that is involved in STEM careers where calculus is definitely a requirement.

California BRANCH Path of Mathematics

In the BRANCH Path, students learn the mathematics that prepares them for BRANCH careers.  BRANCH fields are journalism, elected official, high school principal, marketing executive, attorney, game designer, first responder, movie producer, or stock broker.

California’s three math paths for Grades 9th and 10th

Set 1:

  • Mathematics: Investigating and Connecting 1
  • Mathematics: Investigating and Connecting 2

Set 2:

  • Integrated 1
  • Integrated 2

Set 3:

  • Algebra 1
  • Geometry

California’s math options for Grades 11th and 12th

  • Integrated 3
  • Algebra 2
  • Pre-Calculus
  • Calculus and Trig
  • MIC – Data Science
  • MIC – Modeling with functions
  • Statistics
  • Other

Summary and Review of California’s Assembly Bill 2015

In California, two years of mathematics is required to graduate from high school.  But in reality, most college level careers require at least 3 years of math, and in STEM careers, 4 years of mathematics.  This is different than PARCC which aims that students complete at least Algebra 2.  California’s idea is that different students can choose different mathematics pathways.

I understand the philosophy that not every student needs understand Calculus to be successful.  Same with even Trigonometry and Pre-Calculus.  But not requiring Algebra 2? My personal view is that everybody needs to understand the mathematics of money, so I am of the view that 7th and 8th grade should focus on that mathematics as opposed to pushing finishing Algebra 1 in those grades.

I also think that all students should complete Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2.  But beyond that, I agree with California that different students have different math needs.  Most major functions that most students would have traditionally used calculus are now standard excel functions.  The same can be said with Probability and Statistics.

How to use the math is most important!

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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