My parents have always placed a great value on financial independence, and on self-driven performance. In my first year out of high school, I bought an apartment with money I had saved from working part-time since Year 10. I paid off the mortgage to a point that the rent I earn from the property covers my interest payments. Over the past 5 years I performed well enough in my Commerce studies that I was offered the position of a research assistant at the university.
But, my life should not suggest that I have been taught everything since high school. I’m a terrible cook, completely tone deaf and not entirely confident I know how photosynthesis works. My little anecdote simply shows that my career path was defined by commercial interests and a bit of challenging math.
I’m Paul Essing and as my journey through formal education drew to a close, and whilst applying for graduate positions with investment banks and management consultancy firms, head spinning with how I would direct my career, I met Jamie, founder of Kids at Switch. For the last couple of months I have worked for her, crafting and teaching lessons on practical money management for 6-12 year olds. It’s an incredible job, allowing me to overcome the limitations of our current education system.
Through my entire university career I worked part-time at both primary and high schools. I found that I seriously enjoyed working with kids of all ages – when a kid understands something after patience and creative explanation; the sense of personal achievement is immeasurable. I kept going back to school, sports fields and school camps, eager for those moments to repeat themselves – the time and effort I put into fostering their growth would all be justified when I would blink back my surprise and say, “That’s right!”
Teaching for me is acting on opportunities to cultivate understanding between both myself, and the students. I became increasingly critical of the current education system, seeing it as completely out of touch with how children could be taught. Curriculums have failed to embrace important skills and knowledge including entrepreneurship and computing. It was through this dissatisfaction that Kids at Switch clicked instantly with me: a classroom where kids are empowered to make their own decisions, learning financial literacy to challenge their ability to think critically and realise their goals.
Securing a position with a prestigious firm in a volatile economy has always been important to me. However, realising what I could learn and achieve at Kids at Switch, I made the choice to sign on as a teacher. It’s possible I am simply putting off wearing a suit for a bit longer. Either way, proving what kids are capable of is what I’m passionate about, and every minute is more rewarding than the last.