There is no better time to teach a child how to apply for a mortgage, than during a real estate bubble, amiright? The Government of Ontario released some details on the new Grade 9 curriculum. Education minister Stephen Lecce announced math classes will now include financial literacy to make it more relatable to youth. Of course, the materials don’t specify much about literacy, but do make multiple mentions on how to buy property. Details are still in the works, but let’s look at some of the assets they gave to teachers.
Ontario To Teach How To Take Out Debt, and Mortgages, Says Minister
Minister Lecce, who has been criticized for his cozy ties to the real estate industry, gave Ontario a taste of his financial literacy focus for math. Explaining the province will be focusing on teaching students how they fit into the economy, he rattled off some examples. The focus will be “… debt, savings, how to use a credit card, [and] how to take out a mortgage or rent,” he said.
Okay, maybe he just picked the wrong words and made it seem like it would be overly focused on debt and property. Let’s check the upcoming changes they provided to parents.
“In the financial literacy strand, students will analyze financial situations, explore appreciation and depreciation and compare the effect of interest rates associated with purchasing goods and services, including down payments, and explain how budgets are modified based on changes in circumstances.” reads the material.
Cool. So it’s definitely focused on property.
Real Estate Is The Emphasis, Not Just The Example
The material distributed to teachers is also strangely focused on real estate. In fact, it’s one of the only points specified in the changes. “Purchasing decisions based on factors including interest rate, amount of down payment, duration of loan,” specifies a list of changes provided to educators.
A lesson on interest rates isn’t particularly shocking, and has long been taught. Teaching it from the perspective of buying property seems to be a focus though. Generally it’s taught as amortizing loans. The lesson is more abstract, but can be applied to anything from a mortgage to business equipment. However, they specify it’s about mortgages, several times.
The US managed to work in mortgage payments after the Great Recession. Algebra II has a financial modeling chapter, which is typically taught in Grade 11. Mortgages aren’t specified as the goal of the chapter though. Instead it’s usually just a practical application of the interest rate material.
To contrast, Ontario appears to be placing emphasis on mortgages, and doing it about two years earlier. There’s a number of other ways amortizing loans can, and should, be taught — such as business loans. It’s great that they’ll understand how to deal with debts. It’s just odd to not teach it in the context of productive debt, like business loans.
My only real question is how does this impact the way children perceive property? Will it make them think of property ownership at an early age, driving further focus? Or does learning about valuations, depreciations, and budgets, change the perspective? Maybe they’ll have a chapter on negative cash flow condos, and Brampton loans.
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