Tag Archives: education

A Parent’s Perspective on JA

Together copy(Mairi and Ian McKinnon at the Canadian Business Hall of Fame Gala)

Ian McKinnon is the proud father of Mairi McKinnon (a winner of JA’s Deloitte Inspiration Award). He watched his daughter become involved with JA Company Program – first as a participant and then president – through the Halifax Grammar School in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In the video blog (or “vlog”) below, Ian shares the impact JA has had on Mairi and also has a message for prospective parents. Ian McKinnon is Founder and President of GroundSwell Music in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Transformative Learning

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with Robert Martellacci, Founder and President, MindShare Learning and discovered incredible synergies between the work that he is doing and how JA Canada is evolving. Following our meeting and fueled by the common ground, I made the time to read the C21: Shifting Minds 3.0 position paper this weekend.

This statement jumped out at me and inspired this post :

“The transformative view is that learning is a social process, with students and teachers working in partnership with each other and with experts beyond school, supported by digital technologies. In the transformative view, collaboration, creativity, innovation, entrepreneurial know-how, and ethical citizenship infuse teaching and learning. Students and teachers co-design their work. The learning environment, which extends beyond the classroom, is purposefully designed for students to think, research, analyze, develop and improve their ideas, and demonstrate deep understanding through the work they produce.”

This “transformative view” of learning experiences is exactly what JA creates with our most significant program: JA Company Program (Over a four-month period, JA’s Company Program teaches grade 9-12 students how to organize and operate a real business. Volunteers from the local business community work with students to launch and run a small enterprise. This gives students the real-world skills and experience that they need to uncover their potential.)

Achievers say that participation in Company Program provides a transformational event that alters ambition.*

I highly recommend looking deeper into the work of C21: Canadians for 21st Century Learning and Innovation, and consider having a closer look at the practical example of JA’s Company Program in creating the outcomes described as “transformative.”

* BCG Impact Study (2011) – for more information on JA’s impact.

Stephen Lippa, Vice President Education & Digital Strategy, JA Canada


An Early Lesson In Financial Literacy Creates Empowered Adults

As a parent and as a teacher, I grapple daily with the question of how to seed the experience and knowledge for kids to become financially responsible adults. Instinctively, and for several years now, I have been experimenting on my kids by empowering them to make purchases, research buying decisions, invest their money in family projects, give to charity and save for things they don’t know they want today.

My firm belief is that if my kids are to become financially savvy young adults, they must have diverse and varied experience with handling money as soon as they can understand what it represents. If this education is absent, there are some clear dangers in navigating life’s money minefield.

From my vantage point as I work to shape the financial literacy programs offered by JA Canada, I see four risks for young adults if they don’t have a solid portfolio of financial experience as children.

To me, dependency is the opposite of freedom. To have a fulfilling life one must feel that one has the power to make decisions that create the life one wants to live. Living paycheque to paycheque happens when you run out of cash before paying bills, buying food, or rewarding yourself. I recall vividly how incredibly stifling this situation was emotionally and spiritually when I was a university student. The last thing any parent wants for their child is financial dependency on them well into adulthood.

Skewed Values
Today’s consumer landscape is confusing. Young people are constantly being influenced by various and sophisticated messages designed to channel their desire to buy. This unchecked consumerism contradicts any instruction a person might receive about saving or fiscal responsibility. Without intervention with the full weight of your parental influence, kids risk developing unrealistic and unhealthy expectations that they are entitled to the latest trends. Worse yet, they may learn happiness is dependent on full participation in rabid consumerism.

Constraining Debt
On a weekly basis, I hear of more reports that Canadians are carrying record levels of consumer debt. With interest rates seemingly locked down below the rate of inflation, many rational adults succumb to their desires to improve, redecorate and upgrade. Of course, there are solid financial reasons to leverage credit to create stability (i.e. mortgage) or capitalize on real opportunity (i.e. postsecondary education), but kids without money smarts will have trouble seeing the constraints and potentially paralyzing effects of unhealthy debt on their future options.

Sinking Self-Esteem
Without positive money habits, the risk of a big financial mistake in young adulthood is higher. The cascading consequences of such a circumstance can turn the confident and empowered into the shaken and demoralized. It would be hard to quantify the long term, compounding effects of a false start to adult life, but surely this something we all would like to mitigate for our kids.

Of course, it’s not all bad. The opportunities in equipping kids with money mojo far exceed the dangers of not doing so. This is the spirit of Financial Literacy Month and the motivation of the thousands of volunteers who deliver our JA Dollars with Sense program in Canada. Together we are striving to be an upstream solution to the risks I see above.

As always, I am interested in your thoughts and reactions. Why is an early financial education important to you? What perils are you preventing by equipping kids with money mojo?

Stephen Lippa,
Vice-President, Education & Digital Strategy, JA Canada

This post by Stephen Lippa originally appeared in The Huffington Post on 11/18/2015.