Status of Consumer Education and Financial Education in Canada (2016)

Sue L. T. McGregor, Canadian Journal of Education, Jul 04, 2018
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Consumer education is “a process of gaining skills, knowledge and understanding required for living in a consumer society [in order to] make full use of the range of consumer opportunities present in today’s complex marketplace.” This article (32 page PDF) reviews the state of consumer education in Canada. I've never really been a fan of consumer education because of its bias toward consumption, a trend evidenced in a 2000 report: "Most (84%) consumer concepts pertained to resource management, followed by decision making (11%), and then citizen participation (advocacy and protection) (5%)." The currently study sets the numbers at 73%, 13% and 14% respectively. These, and the subjects taught, vary widely across provinces. And the article reflects the question of what consumer education should be: "What power does the consumerism ideology lord over people, mesmerizing them into relentless and meaningless consumption? Why are people engaging in excessive, unsustainable consumption? These larger philosophical, ideological, and moral questions (see McGregor, 2010) are more than just knowing how to make savvy and effective financial decisions when spending one’s money." Good questions, but I see few signs of a change in our current (and unsatisfactory) focus.

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