Jan 07 2013

Bankers to bring their propaganda directly to UK classrooms

Posted by: Nick Shaxson in: Thoughts

A couple of years ago the eminent UK economist Lord Skidelsky recommended that graduate education in macroeconomics needed to be dramatically revamped and supplemented with instruction in ethics, philosophy, and politics. Quite so, and an article in Harvard Business Review explores the theme of ‘economic imperialism’ by which economics – and particularly versions of it discredited by events since 2007.2008 – has been able to guide policy in pernicious ways to the detriment of (nearly) all.

Now Britain seems to be taken its own steps in a related area, following the gigantic crisis made in the City of London. It is to bring those discredited bankers into British classrooms, to propagate their view of the world to the nation’s most impressionable group of citizens. From the Financial Times:

“High street banks responsible for some of the worst consumer mis-selling scandals of the past decade will be invited into British schools to help teach financial education under proposed changes to the national curriculum.

The proposals come amid calls by more than 200 MPs to make financial education compulsory by incorporating it into core subjects like maths. But there are concerns among teachers about the involvement of financial service firms potentially making the education process into a marketing exercise.”

The marketing exercise is bad enough. But it’s the propagation of the City’s deadly world view straight into our school system that is most dangerous.

Sure, they’ll say they will push only messages of responsible banking. (How could they promise anything else?) But these are organisations stuffed with the country’s most highly educated individuals, bent on boosting an already massively oversized financial sector. Can you imagine them coming in and saying ‘an oversize banking sector is bad for your economy? Or ‘deregulation has gone much too far?’ Of course not. They will come in saying ‘the UK has to stay competitive’ and all that race-to-the-bottom nonsense which got us all into this mess in the first place.

And it’s already started:

“A number of banks have already provided staff time and teaching materials to thousands of schools on an informal basis, and insist such programmes have no commercial element. Between 2007 and 2011, HSBC funded a £3.4m programme for 20,000 primary school pupils called “What Money Means”.

Tax Haven US marches on and on. Some level of financial education, delivered by teaching professionals reflecting the views of all stakeholders, is appropriate. The banks simply, absolutely, utterly, must not be trusted to inject their views directly into school curriculums.

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