Having recently got a job in Starbucks I noticed there are many transferable skills which I need to use every shift. One of the skills that I needed, as highlighted to me in my interview, was to be able to work effectively with money when on the till in order to make sure the customers got the correct change. However, whilst on the drive through window on one of my shifts I realised that I was handling less money than I expected because everyone was using their card.
As a teacher, one of our most important roles is to teach children the value and importance of numbers as a whole, and more specifically of money. Therefore, this made me question whether people’s skills in handling money have decreased or if it was just a matter of convenience and that contactless required less effort than counting the change in their pocket, or even having to type in their pin.
The first issue this raises is that the Curriculum for Excellence suggests that teachers should make learning relevant to the children in the class. However, by the time the children of today are finished school and looking for a job will money still be physical and require thought or will contactless become the norm? Further, does this mean we should change the curriculum to keep up with the changes in society or does this make the teachers job of providing the children with a profound understanding of money even more important?
With these questions in mind, on a different occasion someone offered to ‘give me the extra 20p’ if it made giving the change easier – which it didn’t, but they gave me it anyway. As I had already typed in the change they had given me, the balance on screen was incorrect as they had given me extra and so I had to work out how much they were to get back. Although maths was not my strong point, my profound understanding of numbers allowed me to give back the correct change.
This begs the question, so what?
Providing the children in your class a profound understanding of basic mathematics will not only help them throughout their lives but may also have a wider impact. Before considering how this may help them in the workplace, we have to explore applying for the job. With it becoming harder and harder to get a job, a basic understanding of maths is vital in being considered for any role therefor, not having a fundamental understanding may give someone less of a chance than someone else. More importantly, if the children have a profound understanding of maths, for example in the situation of handling change, they will be better equipped as they will have multiple perspectives. This is true as someone who understands money and numbers may be able to give £1 change in a varieties of ways, 5 x 20p, 10 x 10p, or even as far as 2 x 20p 1 x 50p and 2 x 5p. Someone who does not have a deep understanding may be able to do the simpler calculations but when the till is running low on certain coins may struggle.
The importance of this can be further shown when thinking about the impact of giving the wrong change which can have a detrimental effect. Working for a company which revolves around the customer, giving the customer the wrong change can result in complaints which reflects badly on the company. Another aspect of giving the wrong change multiple times would result in the company losing money which over time could add up to a big over loss.
Overall, I believe that despite the changes that are happening before our very eyes in terms of money, the curriculum should stay the same or even further incorporate money skills rather than shaping it around more electrical ways of using money. To me, teaching children about newer ways of using money would be like learning to drive an automatic car, if you learn in an automatic you are restricted to only these where as a manual allows you to drive both. Similarly, giving children a profound understanding of the value of money would allow them to then further apply this knowledge when things inevitably change in the future. Finally, if everything money related moves over to card and online, giving children a profound understanding will allow them to be able to manage and track their money and finances effectively regardless of its physical status which would be harder without this foundation.