In high school, every year I had to take a course called ‘Career and Personal Planning’ (CAPP). For the most part, it combined invasiveness with uselessness. Most memorably, in my final year of high school we were all asked to prepare binders full of personal information: bank statements, medical records, etc. These were to be submitted for grading, and were kept in heaps in unlocked classrooms. For mine, I submitted a bunch of documents that were heavily redacted in CIA style, along with a copy of British Columbia’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. I admit that it was a good idea to encourage high school students to collect copies of important documents in a safe central location, but it was definitely inappropriate to them gather all that information.
The course also featured a number of methodologically dubious exercises designed to help people choose a career, along with some more useful segments on things like resume preparation.
One thing CAPP never discussed – as far as I can recall – is mortgages. This seems like a rather serious omission, given how most Canadians will probably be associated with a mortgage at some point. It seems like common sense to teach people about interest rate options, down payments, and matters like what happens if you decide to move before paying a mortgage off.
Generally speaking, I think people put too much emphasis on home ownership. As the recent economic crisis has demonstrated, houses are not assets guaranteed to appreciate in value at all times. While it is true that ‘at least you have a place to live’ if you invest most of your savings in a home, I think it is smarter overall to invest in a more diversified way. Of course, the decisions made by each person reflect their preferences and personalities. Given the high proportion of Canadians who will deal with mortgages, it just makes sense to teach about them in high school. That is, after all, the last stage of compulsory schooling in Canada, and meant to convey the basic skills necessary to function in Canadian society.