Cryptocurrencies are often dismissed as vehicles for speculation — an asset class that lacks intrinsic value.
But this is a naive, underdeveloped, and misinformed argument, especially when you consider how digital assets are being used as a modern tool for financial education.
Jay-Z and Jack Dorsey recently teamed up to launch "The Bitcoin Academy," with dedicated classes for children aged 5 to 17.
All of this is very exciting, and it's only the beginning. There are big opportunities for crypto to revamp financial education in the world's classrooms — and compelling applications that extend far beyond telling youngsters who Satoshi Nakamoto is.
Crypto classrooms in action
While "crypto classrooms" are something to strive for, there are challenges to overcome. Many educators are just getting to grips with implementing Web2 technology into their day-to-day classes — let alone digital assets.
Fear is a very real barrier, and the perception of crypto as gambling or a high-risk investment will take time to eradicate. Concerns about safety also mean schools are unlikely to devote curriculum space to it.
Despite this, failing education systems are one of the most pressing problems the world has to deal with, apart from climate change and population. Simply put, current education models are not suitably preparing children for the world they are entering.
Eight and nine-year-olds don't need to understand what a blockchain is, or master the nuances between Proof-of-Work and Proof-of-Stake. But practical lessons that focus on the concepts they already understand and building up the principles they need to navigate the 21st-century economy are desperately lacking.
Anyone who has children of this age already understands that pocket money now is on a bank card and needs to be online. Cash just doesn't cut it anymore. Children are using their online money to buy both digital and real-life assets.
This spending occurs in worlds where our children live outside the classroom — just look at Roblox or Fortnite. And even though the migration to metaverse-like experiences has already happened in Generation Alpha, education on how to manage the financial tools, safety mechanisms, and digital identity that underpin all of this is almost non-existent.
There are no structured educational models on digital ownership or transferring of digital assets — even though many of these children own digital assets and are making revenue already. For example, in the NFT-enabled creator economy, children aged 11 to 13 have launched art collections that have made large revenues like Weird Whales creator Benyamin Ahmed and Long Necked Ladies creator Nyla Hayes.
Currently, inside classrooms, one of the most popular platforms is Class Dojo, a virtual reward system used by 50 million students around the world. Children are used to being rewarded virtually and are already living hybrid online/offline lives.
There are efforts being made to change the status quo. Educational, blockchain-based initiatives are allowing courses created by teachers to be co-published in NFT form. Revenues can then be used to create even more resources. Through these courses, students can now be confident in navigating Web3 financial structures, wallets, and the metaverse. Child-safe crypto wallets are also being launched that parents can actively monitor — allowing youngsters to navigate the sector safely, yet independently.
The importance and value of real-life situations being replicated in the classroom is paramount. And there are ways to add a compelling extra dimension to all of this. What if teams of students had to work together to decide how virtual tokens should be spent?
The concept of digital ownership is absolutely vital for the oncoming world of decentralized economies, especially as future generations will be more likely to manage their wealth instead of giving this control to banks and centralized exchanges. Future generations have the right to know how to be smart with their money early. And if the concept of blockchain clicks with them at an early age, they'll have the time and the opportunity to prepare themselves for a prosperous career.
Why this matters
At this point, you may be wondering why cryptocurrencies are needed for all of this. You might be tempted to argue that schools already have financial education boxed off. But this couldn't be further from the truth.
Just look at this recent research from the United Kingdom performed by Student Beans. On average, young people owe £2,000 ($2,171) across credit cards and overdrafts. Why? Because a whopping 89% say that they didn't know how to use them responsibly. This is a damning indictment of the educational system in its current form, and it's a picture that's replicated in countries around the world. What's more, 52% don't know how interest rates work — and 69% want further guidance on how to budget.
A lack of financial literacy can have a damning impact on mental health. And understanding how investments work — as well as how to grow savings — are skills that every single person on the planet deserve. Cryptocurrencies have helped democratize and demystify the world of wealth, with onboarding across minority sectors at an all-time high, but the message still needs to get through to billions of people so we can work together towards a decentralized, financially literate world.
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