The value of good thinking in teaching financial literacy

Posted by hualoon 0 Comments

In teaching financial literacy, we often present the categories of “needs” versus “wants”. We classify items into these two groups, and present them for others to follow.

Item A is a need.
Item B is a want.
and so on…

However, is this level of thinking enough? I believe that good thinking can take this even further and reveal greater value in the teaching of financial literacy, as well as personalise the learning process so each individual can relate to it better.

Needs and wants… from whose perspective?

Firstly, we must understand that the distinctions and systems of “needs” and “wants” are dynamic and will change depending on the perspective of each individual, in different situations, and across time. For example, an item that is to a person a want now, might be to the same person at another time, or to another person, be a need.

It is therefore important to understand that any categorisation of items is just from an individual’s perspective. As we are different according to our values, interests, preferences and skills, it is not surprising if our classifications of “needs” and “wants” might differ from each other; and who is to say whose is right?

More than just needs and wants?

How about the very categorisations of “needs” versus “wants”? Are these sufficient? If I do not “need” something, do I then by definition “want” it, and vice versa?

I do not need an iPad. 
Therefore, I want an iPad?

A “need” implies irreplaceability or urgency.
A “want” implies desire.

If I do not need an iPad, is it therefore a “want” to me? But if I do not have any desire for it either, how then shall I categorise it?

Any mental model that is to be taught should be accurate, otherwise the learners will have trouble integrating and applying it in their lives.

It’s a “not-need, not-want”!

Deeper thinking will reveal that there could actually be a missing category. Perhaps for lack of a better name, we can call this missing category the “miscellaneous” or the “not-need/not-want” group.

We can therefore now look at all things around us from the perspective of three categories:

  • Need
  • Want
  • Not-need/not-want

This is a more accurate view of the world around us, and provides the flexibility for an individual to plan with. Now, if I do not “need” an iPad, nor do I “want” it, it is to me a “not-need, not-want”.

Of course, this is just my view and many might beg to differ with me on the iPad… but I believe not on the thinking.

At MindLife Success, we teach children good financial literacy character skills using our divergent creative thinking and interdisciplinary people-based learning approach. Contact us for more information today.

(article by Ling Hua Loon:

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