Money management may be the most important topic typically not taught in school. Unfortunately, one of the more popular efforts to teach kids about money may be teaching the wrong lessons.

Jason Zweig, who writes the “The Intelligent Investor” column in the Wall Street Journal, recently profiled the Stock Market Game – Capitol Hill Challenge, an annual national competition in which high school and junior high school teams from throughout the country compete to invest a hypothetical $100,000 portfolio most profitably. The most recent competition involved 4,400 teams, with the top 10 winning an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC.

The Stock Market Game is sponsored by the SIFMA Foundation, the non-profit educational affiliate of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, the leading trade group for the brokerage industry.

As Zweig described it, the object is “to beat the market over a 14-week period by taking as much risk as possible.”

While the SIFMA Foundation says the game is designed to teach young people “the importance of long-term saving and investing,” a teacher at one school with three student teams in the national competition told Zweig, “Wild-eyed, gold-rush, Klondike speculation, that’s what wins the Stock Market Game.”

That same teacher acknowledged, “I really don’t want to teach things to kids that could have disastrous consequences,” and said he does his best to teach students “sound principles of long-term investing, including diversification and patience.” However, when it comes to the national contest, he tells them, “The way to win this competition is to break every rule of sound investing that I just taught you.”

Zweig’s conclusion? “If your own children are studying the stock market in school, you had better ask them what they have been learning. They might need to be deprogrammed.”


Would you want your kids to participate in the Stock Market Game?