If you think education is "going to the dogs" then you really ought to get down to a local school and take a look at how they're teaching. Out is "chalk and talk" and in is rich learning.
Some of the initiatives to teach financial capability to our children are nothing short of brilliant and with Money Week starting on Monday, parents can replicate some of them at home.
Aorere College's Lunches 4 Less programme is a classic example. Lunches 4 Less was the brainchild of then Year 13 students Tasifine Nofoaiga, Nerisa Foisaga Sue, Kativi Lausi'i and Violet Rawiri, who set it up as a business studies project. They wanted to tackle poverty in their own backyard of South Auckland. They developed three lunches that can be made for $2 or less and set up a programme to run workshops for children and their families in local decile 1 schools.
The workshops covered the buying decisions and budgeting necessary for students and families to create lunches for much less than they were spending - often at the dairy.
Nofoaiga told me that one of the many issues L4L wanted to solve was that families in her community find it hard to use their money wisely. She says $5 might buy a pie and soft drink, whereas with the knowledge gleaned through this project, families could make a healthy lunch for less than $2.
"I learned that home is where our learning starts - in that I mean financially as well. For families that are living with a low income, learning how to budget is the best skill to have to being financially stable in a home," says Nofoaiga.
It's something that parents of any decile could do at home with their children and the help of a food-cost calculator such as Wilmarfoods.com.au/recipe-calculator.
Now a University of Auckland student, school mentor, church volunteer and fundraiser, Nofoaiga found the L4L experience invaluable in learning to budget and set goals.
As she notes, financial capability education is best taught in primary schools.
This column springs from a chance conversation with Russell Investments' staff that led me to a creative financial capability programme run by Gladstone Primary School teacher Enchante Chang.
Chang, a relatively new teacher, worries that most primary-age children in New Zealand won't get taught about finances until they reach high school. So he set up a class reward system.
His students earn paper income for showing up to school - as they would in work, and get interest on income that isn't spent. They have to pay rent on their desks and can choose to spend their "money" on items such as books, chocolate eggs, Smiggle rubbers and so on. If they save their money they can use it to do things such as move their desks to a more desirable spot in the classroom.
There are many ways to do this at home by tying it to pocket money and creating a ledger. Children can earn more money by doing jobs, or earn interest by saving their pocket money. They must, however, spend something each week on renting their room and other costs.
The outcome is often that the penny drops and they begin to understand that money is finite.
Many of the financial capability lessons in our schools are designed to be "authentic learning", a buzzword that means applying knowledge in real-life contexts and situations.
A number of schools I have come across encourage students to become entrepreneurs by creating a business idea, budgeting, buying ingredients, marketing and selling a final product. It helps them learn entrepreneurial skills and to put the family budget into context.
Glenbrook School set up a "Dragon's Den" and children were encouraged to produce, market and sell a product as a fundraiser. Groups of students made everything from soap to organic dog biscuits.
The Years 6, 7 and 8 children were split into teams. They had to overcome hurdles such as creating and managing a budget, product buying, health and safety, quality control and how to calculate GST. They also had to learn that they could fail and start again.
It is rich learning with many benefits for financial capability and the students' wider education, says Lysandra Stuart, Glenbrook School principal.
The Dragon's Den touched on many curriculum areas such as English, science, technology, and health. Students also learned a variety of maths concepts such as fractions and percentages and using numbers in the everyday world.
In the case of Edmonton School, new entrants to Year 2 students were involved in planning a school party. The children had to raise funds, accompany teachers to the supermarket, compare prices, buy supplies, hire a DJ and even recruit a security guard (teacher). The learning outcomes involved setting a budget and the difference between needs and wants.
It's an exercise parents could do when planning a children's birthday party with them.
The students at St Patrick's Primary School in Wellington also have rich financial capability lessons - thanks in part to teacher Helen Barber, who realised that her own children had started high school with no real-world financial knowledge of concepts such as how bank savings and interest work.
In one lesson children were given the scenario of having moved into a flat and received their first wages. They worked with a partner to list the expenses they might have and sort their needs from wants. They then had to add the cost of their items together and check they had stayed within budget - a feat many university students are incapable of.
The children are also encouraged to rummage through newspapers, junk mail and magazines to learn about the language advertisers use to entice the buyer, learning new vocabulary as well as valuable financial lessons.
Dallas Graham of Cognition Education, who is part of the Te Toi Tupu consortium, which delivers financial capability workshops to schools, says programmes such as the two she was involved in at Glenbrook and Edmonton show that the learning can be built into the wider curriculum.
Several of the schools in this article have also signed up for ASB's free GetWise financial literacy programme, in which two independent facilitators deliver lessons on earning, saving and spending.
In Auckland, two "clusters" of schools supported by the Commission for Financial Capability (CFFC) are doing amazing work in teaching financial capability.
One of the "Albany Cluster", Hobsonville Point Secondary School, requires students to budget and apply for funding for group projects. One recent example was a catered community fundraising event for KidsCan, which raised $1200. It's an idea, says deputy principal Di Cavallo, that can work at home, where parents can work with their children to learn about budgeting for projects such as a bedroom redecoration.
Another of the cluster schools, Browns Bay School, involved students in a programme to design a holiday package they then had to "sell" to prospective customers. The students researched current holiday packages to ensure what they had was accurate and would appeal to different groups. The "buyers" were given budgets and roles, such as being a family of four, or a young couple. "It provided both groups with an understanding of budgets involved in meeting needs," says principal Peter Mulcahy.
The Upper Harbour Sorted Schools is running a Financial Festival this Thursday at Massey University's Albany Campus. All age groups will engage in a variety of activities intended to enhance their financial learning. For other Money Week activities visit Moneyweek.org.nz