How TikTok is helping me teach Aussie kids about money


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Earlier this year towards the end of my Year 12 business management and enterprise class, I asked my students: "Do you think you are prepared with the necessary financial literacy skills when you leave school at the end of the year?" The overwhelming response was no.

Their response did not shock me.

When students choose their subjects for Year 11 and 12, there are currently no subjects that offer any financial literacy insight or practical money skills. In the Western Australian Certificate of Education, there are three business subjects that are offered: economics, business management and enterprise, and accounting and finance. These subjects allow them to better understand business, but not improve their understanding of money.

joel kandiah teaching kids about money
Joel Kandiah, pictured at the Royal Australian Mint, in his custom-made currency hoodie that he designed himself.

Don't get me wrong - allowing teenagers to understand the inner workings of a business is a great pathway into them wanting to enter that world once they leave school. But, shouldn't they understand and work on their own personal finances before they tackle something far greater?

I became passionate about teaching financial literacy as a junior cricket coach.

These teenagers that I would coach into maybe becoming the next Steve Smith or Ellyse Perry, I would also talk to about making responsible financial decisions, about buying their next cricket bat or how to save money for their first car. It floored me that these concepts were not being explicitly taught in schools.

At the same time, if financial literacy is not explicitly a part of the syllabus, especially in the later years of secondary education, then the resources will not be provided. As much has there been a push by the private sector to provide financial literacy programmes, teachers are already limited by their punishing schedules to deliver their programmes and co-curricular commitments, let alone deliver a separate financial literacy programme.

In 2016, the University of Melbourne conducted the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, which collected valuable information about economic and personal well-being.

Participants were asked to answer five financial literacy questions on interest rates, inflation, diversification, risk and money illusion. Only 28% of teenage (15-17 years old) males and 18% teenage females were able to answer the questions correctly. This has a flow-on effect where one-third of Australian adult men and two-thirds of Australian adult women do not understand key financial literacy concepts.

These numbers are extremely concerning.

I am lucky that I was brought up with sound financial advice and education from my parents, many of my friends and colleagues were not and hence struggle to understand home ownership, superannuation and risk diversification because they did not get the financial education they needed.

But for a movement to start, it needs one person to begin making a difference.

Know Your Money Part 5 - Crash Course: Australian Banknotes ##foryou ##foryoupage ##fyp ##edutok ##money ##perth ##australia ? dont follow me - roeyjinke

I dedicate time at least once a week with my classes to discuss money issues with students. A popular point of discussion is the movement of the share market in the current economic environment. Our discussions always link back to the syllabus, and students get to gain knowledge in both their subject area and financial literacy.

I am also developing a survey for Year 11 and 12 students to paint a picture of the level of financial literacy at our school. The results of this will help me create a Financial Literacy Hub, where students can attend workshops before and after school to learn the money skills they will need in their lives after high school.

And I've turned to the phenomenon that is short-form video platform TikTok, creating the @thehistoryofmoney account to engage people about currency and other financial topics. The growing interest in it shows that teenagers are calling out for this information, delivered in ways accessible to them.

Governments need to step up to collaborate, engage and develop strong financial literacy education programmes with the financial and education sector so that we as teachers can be given the resources and time to save another generation of Australians from being left behind in developing vital financial literacy skills.

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Joel Kandiah is a commerce teacher in Western Australia. He is passionate about teaching teenagers the importance of financial literacy in the most creative ways possible. He holds a Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Western Australia and a Graduate Diploma of Education (Secondary) from the University of Notre Dame Australia. Joel runs the the @historyofmoney TikTok account.
Kayleigh Hitchcock
July 25, 2020 8.54am

Joel, what you are doing is great! Well done!

Nicole Martin
July 25, 2020 10.49am

Hi Joel, this is excellent news to hear that you're taking a pro-active approach to helping young people become financially literate. I started a financial literacy teaching business 3 years ago in Coffs Harbour, NSW because I realised that children were not being sufficiently equipped with these life-changing skills through the formal education system. Every week my students are becoming smarter in their understanding of their personal finances!

Sheree Simon
July 25, 2020 4.40pm

What a great story!

We need more teachers like you.

And that hoodie is amazing!

Monica M
July 27, 2020 11.36am

Hi Joel - brilliant and much needed initiative! I'm doing my part by educating my children and friends so we can all move away from buying unnecessary things in return for financial stability in the future - for both boys and girls. My son bought his first unit at 19 years of age and is financially managing everything by himself while studying full time and working. We also discuss various financial products, diversification, savings, investments etc. I strongly believe that introduction to personal responsibility about our financial future is the way to go! Great job & keep going, Joel!

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