Outside the Echo Chamber

echo-1Education is messy. Like any system, nothing in our public schools is simple. While it’s really easy to point the blame at teachers, school boards, and the government, the problems run deeper than that. Yesterday, it came to light that a school in Pennsylvania had enacted a controversial practice of trying to recoup the money families hadn’t paid towards their children’s hot lunches. A firestorm of comments broke out across social media. A handful of people* defended the district’s idea, but the general public seemed to be outraged.

But like all things in life, things aren’t always how they seem. When I did a search on Twitter at 6:30 PM, only one person actually tweeted at the school district. Their Facebook page didn’t reveal much either. People opined all over the news yet none of them suggested the one thing that might actually fix the problem: speak up to the school. Continue reading “Outside the Echo Chamber”

Outside the Echo Chamber

In Defense of Kylie Jenner

JennerThere. I said it. Now before you think that I’m trying to usher in the apocalypse, hear me out. I’m not about to argue that the world needs another Kardashian. To be honest, I’m not even totally sure that she really is one. Instead, I’d like to defend the interview Ms. Jenner did for Wealthsimple last week, not her as a celebrity or as a person. Because 1.) much to my students’ perennial dismay, I don’t keep up with the Kardashians, and 2.) I don’t actually know her.

Last week, Wealthsimple did a profile on her as a part of their “Money Diaries” series, where they do a Q & A write-up with famous (they say “interesting”) people about how money intersects with their daily lives. And they picked the world’s most famous 19-year-old*. In it, she talks about inexpensive makeup, expensive cars, and possibly living outside of the limelight one day. After the post went live, there was some virtual eye rolling, and one Tweeter even questioned his enrollment in Wealthsimple. To both, I say absurd.

*Actually, I’m making this up. There are probably more famous 19-year-olds. Is Bieber still 19? What about Taylor Swift? Am I 97 yet? Continue reading “In Defense of Kylie Jenner”

In Defense of Kylie Jenner

Harnessing the Power of Not Yet

Power of Not YetLetter grades are one of the hallmarks of the American education system. Whether it’s an A or an F or something in between, letter grades define our academic abilities as students for nearly two decades of life. And then what? People still talk about succeeding and fret at the notion of failing. What would happen if we altered the verbiage and recategorized failure? 

That is, in fact, one of my favorite parts of summer school. Since these are non-credit classes given my students’ ages, I assess individual skill strands. I don’t have to worry about assigning letter grades that have to translate into GPA points and transcript data. My favorite category? Not yet. There is no F. There is no no. Instead, a student is either mastering a skill, developing a skill, or hasn’t done it quite yet. More chances will be offered, and there is more work to be done. She hasn’t failed. He hasn’t flunked. They’re just not ready yet.

As someone who obsessed obsesses over failure regularly, removing the notion of failing from my mindset has been liberating. I haven’t flunked personal finance. I haven’t failed a goal. I’m just not there yet. I’ll get there. I might be on mile two while everyone else is eyeing the finish line, but I’ll keep trudging on. In the spirit of summer school, here are my not yets–financial and otherwise. Continue reading “Harnessing the Power of Not Yet”

Harnessing the Power of Not Yet

Goals are Good: I Should Set Some

GoalsI thought I had goals. But it turns out, I have mostly hopes and dreams when it comes to personal finance. Paying off our mortgage in the next 10 years isn’t a good goal. Staying out of debt isn’t a good goal. Increasing my net worth isn’t a good goal. They’re undoubtedly important aspirations, but they’re not measurable. They’re also quite vague.

For someone as fond of spreadsheets as I am–I love them, I do, I do, I do–you’d think that I’d be all about SMART goals. The more specific the goals, the more observable the metrics. Hello, spreadsheets. For too long, I’ve let fears prevent me from setting specific goals. Fear of failing and fear of investing have kept me locked in a holding pattern of saving but not really allowing our money to work for us. So here’s to shaking off the fear and setting some real goals for once and for all. Continue reading “Goals are Good: I Should Set Some”

Goals are Good: I Should Set Some