Why Schools Should Teach About Crypto

With blockchain becoming a mainstream topic, schools can tap into its core strengths

A boy with a dream

10 years ago, an 18-year-old teen who was fascinated with the invention of Bitcoin wrote the blog post “Bitcoin Adoption Opportunity: Teenagers”. The author argued that for Bitcoin to achieve mainstream adoption, it needed to focus on those who are less comfortable and more adventurous in their lives. Naturally, his choice fell on teens. He identified unique properties of Bitcoin that would remediate failures of the current financial system and secure teens a better financial future. He stressed that unlike credit cards, the digital currency encourages teens to save before making purchases that they could not afford. Secondly, adopting the digital currency would promote teen entrepreneurship, allowing them to interact with others in the emerging digital economy. The author of this blog post, Vitalik Buterin, went on to create Ethereum at age 19, the technology powering today’s second largest cryptocurrency Ether (ETH) and thousands of blockchain-based applications.

A revolution is on its way

10 years later, another internet revolution is under way. The total market cap of cryptocurrency has risen from $40 million to $1 trillion (June 12th, 2022). Bitcoin adoption became mainstream, with over 106 million people now holding cryptocurrencies. The space has been a test bed for new innovative business models, from re-inventing financial markets through automated smart contracts (Decentralised Finance aka DeFi) to creating digital art sold on the blockchain through non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

Teens are embracing the change

And teens, just like Vitalik predicted, are at the forefront of this movement. Using social media platforms such as TikTok and Youtube, they have found creative ways to get involved, from asking their parents to open a crypto account to invest, to creating their own NFT projects. Their curiosity about crypto is reflected in a recent study, where 45% of teens said that they know more about crypto than their parents. Some have taken it a step further. Youssof Altouki, 16, launched Y-Coin, a transfer and payment token that aims to bring more democratic decision making for future coin holders. Others such as Nyla Hayes, 13, became a millionaire by selling art as NFTs.

Crypto is still the wild, wild west

With crypto and NFT projects, we're finding ourselves in a situation similar to that in the dot-com era of the late 90s. Technology start-ups promised unrealistic returns through e-commerce and work productivity. And just like the dot-com crash, today’s investors, especially teens, are vulnerable to losing their savings due to their desire to get rich quick without understanding the high risks of investing in crypto. The recent, $60bn [collapse of the Terra project](https://www.cnbc.com/2022/05/27/this-is-whats-next-for-terra-as-the-failed-crypto-project-attempts-a-new-path-forward.html#:~:text=The collapse of the Terra,incited a cryptocurrency sell-off.), a stablecoin that uses an algorithm to maintain a consistent value, is a recent reminder. Whilst Terra failed in spectacular fashion, many smaller projects fail over a longer period of time. The majority of NFT projects have failure rates above 80% after launch.

Parents demand for greater Blockchain education

Despite all its flaws, the rise of cryptocurrencies and NFTs will only accelerate in years to come. Bitcoin has been introduced as legal tender in 2 countries in the last 12 months. NFTs are evolving from collectibles to other use cases, such as music copy rights of an artist or a certified application profile for a student. Parents are concerned that their children aren’t sufficiently prepared for the future. In a recent survey of 400 parents, 58% said that they “strongly agreed” or “agreed” that it’s important for their children to learn about cryptocurrencies. Yet when asked about whether schools are prepared to teach cryptocurrencies, only 38% felt that this was the case. When asked which resources they find most useful in educating about blockchain and cryptocurrencies, schools only ranked third (16%) after educational apps (29%) and social media influencers (20%). This is worrying because many influencers are making money through paid promotions. When asked about the appropriate age to start learning, 70% of parents answered age 14 or above, which is well below the legal age to buy and trade crypto. With secondary schools ill-equipped to educate on the subject of cryptocurrencies and blockchain, parents search online communities where crypto is being taught through self-directed learning courses or interactive sessions.

Schools need to act now

With blockchain becoming a mainstream topic, schools can tap into its core strengths: its network of  science, art and business teachers that can help prepare students to become financially literate. For this to be true, we need leaders across education and government to advocate for crypto education in secondary schools. And change is underway: Last year, the Georgia House of Representatives has passed a bill that calls for state education officials to implement a study program based on financial literacy that includes cryptocurrency. Eric Adam, mayor of New York, recently noted that “Bitcoin is the new way of paying for goods and services throughout the entire globe and that schools must teach the technology behind it”. And Bitcoin Argentina, an NGO promoting the expansion of Bitcoin, created an initiative that seeks to teach more than 4,000 high schoolers this year. And that’s not all. Last week, Jay-Z, a US rapper, and Jack Dorsey, CEO of the Block, partnered up to launch the Bitcoin Academy to teach about Bitcoin and financial literacy in the neighbourhood where Jay-Z grew up. These are the first steps in the right direction. But given the rate of change that is happening in the crypto space, more communities and schools need to act so they so they can get ahead of the curve and are able to support parents and teens. So more young people with big dreams have a place in our education system.

How we can help

At doshi, we recognise that teaching crypto and blockchain is a big step-change for schools and their communities. As a learning hub and educational wallet for teens, we see ourselves as a partner to forward-thinking communities, schools and teachers that want to better prepare students for their future. As a partner, we can help drive awareness and engage your students with our partnership programme. If you are a teacher, school or educational leader, and are keen to find out more, get in touch with us at daniel@doshi.app.

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