"So, what about maths?"
I have to confess that I love maths. It appears that my basic secondary school maths education (acquired in a “developing country") was so solid that if I occasionally had to use a bit of trigonometry, quadratics or statistics in my former life as an investment analyst, it impressed my colleagues. It has also made me adept at helping both of my kids with maths homework, including my son who is currently taking his GCSEs (not that my help is necessarily always welcome).
With all the recent government controversy around ensuring every teenager studies maths until the age of 18 (we can definitely thank them for stirring up the debate), my initial reaction was mixed (maths is essential in my view - both as a life skill and for intellectual development). This is until my studious, articulate son asked me what many kids ask - “Mum when will I ever have to use surds, unless I intend to build bridges?” And I had to agree. Not that maths is not important but that it seems irrelevant to young people.
I strongly agree with Lucy Kellaway’s article in the Financial Times that “Forcing maths on teenagers is cruel and unhelpful”. Lucy Kellaway's humorous and insightful articles on all things office life related were one thing I used to look forward to on Mondays in my City days. They have always been my go-to place for sensible (if occasionally somewhat sarcastic and wacky) opinions.
Since those days, Lucy Kellaway retrained as a maths teacher and founded an education charity Now Teach which helps older professionals retrain as teachers. Meaning her views on anything related to maths and financial education should be taken seriously. She argues that what is important is developing an interest in maths during earlier years of school by making it practical and relevant.
As a co-founder of MyPocketSkill, a GenZ platform for financial education, that enables 13–22-year-olds to Earn, Save and Learn about money - this is exactly what I want to happen as well. We see it every day on our platform, how earning money makes financial education (and therefore maths) more engaging. Money, as we see it, is a great motivator. And maybe, to paraphrase Lucy Kellaway, this more practical understanding of the subject will encourage more young people to engage with maths, in GCSEs and beyond.
Zara Ransley is a co-founder of MyPocketSkill, a technology company with a mission to financially empower Gen-Z by connecting them to paid opportunities with households and businesses to help them earn, save and learn about money.