Bitcoin seems like the world's biggest buzzword.

On the surface, it may seem like a financial fad, but this incredible innovation is definitely something that’s here to stay and holds the potential to drastically impact many industries.

So what space does Bitcoin have in education?

Bitcoin continues to be a teacher in and of itself. It has shown us that there is always space for change and growth, even in the most established industries. Learning about these kinds of alternative systems forces us to reevaluate current systems, unlearn and then relearn.

Understanding these kinds of disruptive innovations is therefore crucial in preparing kids for a future that will inevitably be filled with countless new and exciting technologies and systems.

We recently heard from several Bitcoin and Bitcoin Education experts, Daniel Prince, Nathan Day, Tomer Strolight, Vlad Stan, and Alvaro Sanmartin who weighed in on why understanding Bitcoin is an essential skill for young people, as well as what avenues are available to educate kids on the basics of cryptocurrency networks.

What is Bitcoin, Exactly?

If you haven't heard about Bitcoin by now, then here's a quick crash course.

Where It All Began

Bitcoin is a digital currency known as a cryptocurrency, meaning that it has no physical presence and is completely virtual. It's a digital asset that is designed to store its own value using cryptography that controls its creation, management, and transactions, rather than relying on a central authority like a bank.

This means that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are completely decentralized and rely on peer-to-peer exchanges.

The original protocol and software were designed in 2008 by an anonymous group or individual under the pseudonym 'Satoshi Nakamoto' and the Bitcoin network was subsequently launched in 2009.

The concept of cryptocurrency had already existed in the crypto world for some years, however, Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency of its kind.

Based on Bitcoin's open-source code, other cryptocurrencies started to emerge. As of January 2022, there are an estimated 10,000 different cryptocurrencies and hundreds of millions of dollars are processed through crypto transactions each day.

2021: Year of the Cryptocurrency | Statista

Nowadays, a number of companies accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as legitimate transactions that can be used to buy products and services, in the same way that you would use cash or your bank account.

Breaking Down The Blockchain

So what actually gives cryptocurrency its value?

The standard cash economies are connected to the market value of tangible resources such as gold or oil. With digital currencies, the value and worth lie in the data that these digital tokens possess.

For example, each Bitcoin contains private codes, almost like a computer file, that record the transactional history of that specific Bitcoin.

All Bitcoin transactions are recorded on a public ledger, which exists on servers around the world and can be accessed by anyone. Any individual can set up one of these servers, known as a node, which can be used for verifying transactions.

Whenever a transaction takes place, it's broadcasted to the network and is shared between all existing nodes. Every few minutes, Bitcoin miners collect these transactions into groups called blocks, which are permanently added to the blockchain.

Making sense of bitcoin and blockchain | PwC

Transparency Through Digital Currency

This kind of blockchain technology makes cryptocurrency completely transparent as it's possible to trace every single thing that each specific bitcoin has been used for. This way in which Bitcoin is structured makes actions like fraud or theft impossible.

Crypto expert Nathan Day shares:

"Part of what makes Bitcoin so interesting is that anyone can validate every single thing that's ever happened in it, so they don't have to trust some corporation, leader, or third party. By creating a full node and using mathematics and the rules of Bitcoin, you basically verify the entire history of Bitcoin for yourself, and you do so in a way that guarantees that you have the exact same records as everybody else. It's like recreating the entire history."

If you haven't grasped the full story, you can find a simple and useful breakdown of Bitcoin from the Guardian here.

Life Lessons From Cryptocurrency

There's a lot we can learn from the concept of virtual currency and the crypto market.

Digital currency gives financial autonomy back to people, without having to rely on central authorities. People have more freedom to make their own financial decisions. These kinds of decentralized applications also put the onus on individuals to maintain the cheques and balances. Nathan shares:

"You're not just blindly copying each other's data. They're checking each and every single piece. And because each and every single piece is true, we all end up with the same conclusion about the state of the cryptocurrency world, which is who owns which Bitcoins, and how many Bitcoins exist."

In our recent conversation with MicroStrategy CEO, Michael Saylor, he strongly believes that there's a lot to learn and take away from the ethos of Bitcoin, specifically when it comes to education. He shared:

"I think the ethos of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency is openness, inclusion, economic empowerment, permissionless and global. I think that the great thing about Bitcoin is that it's a global monetary network open to everyone - as we say: 'rules without rulers'. Bitcoin doesn't discriminate. Our approach with the free Michael Saylor Academy is much the same as the world of Bitcoin. In the same way that Bitcoin opens up the money supply, we want to create courses and give them to everyone. Like Bitcoin, we want to put the power back into the hands of the people. This is a sign that we are heading in a new direction."

What Saylor is referring to here is an issue of centralization. Centralization keeps things exclusive, small scale, and largely inaccessible. We see banks, trading centers, financial products, and other financial institutions control the flow of money. However, with the rise of Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency market, the power can slowly shift back into the hands of individuals. Saylor says:

"A lot of what goes on in the financial world is over-regulated, which is a frustration for many people and why many see Bitcoin as a viable alternative. For example with securities trading or with a public company, you can only trade from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm on the NASDAQ and it's been that way for about forty years. People are thinking differently these days and innovations like Bitcoin offer that - you don't need to go through a company."

The same can be said about education. Universities and other tertiary institutions have acted as gatekeepers of knowledge, qualification, and accreditation for years.

Educating Kids About Cryptocurrency

At our event, various speakers and participants weighed in on educating young people about the world of cryptocurrency. The overwhelming sentiment was, if we're willing to teach them about money, savings, and bank accounts, why not teach them about crypto, trading, and investing too?

How Young is Too Young?

According to leading scientists, it's never too early to start teaching children about the world around them.

In 'Habit Formation and Learning in Young Children', Dr. David Whitebread and Dr. Sue Bingham from Cambridge University found that children can be taught basic financial behavior from as little as three years old by using 'developmentally appropriate' methods.

The researchers note that "young children’s fundamental assumptions about the structure of their world and about the underlying nature of its categories crucially depend on their experiences".

What this means is that children learn by example, specifically from their parents. In the same way that they learn about money, banking, transactions, and finances from watching adults swiping their cards and counting cash, so too can they learn about Bitcoin and other virtual currencies.

However, there are also options for being more intentional about educating children on cryptocurrency. There are books, games, videos, and more.

Here's what a few of our experts had to say.

1. Crypto Books, Films, and More!

Tomer Strolight has been involved in the world of Bitcoin and crypto assets for almost 9 years now. It started off as a purely economic interest but the more that he learned about the social and moral implications of digital currency, Tomer knew there was so much more to discover.

More recently, Tomer has been working as a Bitcoin writer and content producer.

However, all this content he was producing was solely aimed at adults. He thought, why not teach children about cryptocurrency, too?

Tomer decided to take matters into his own hands and started creating his own educational content around cryptocurrency. He also produced a short film that highlights what Bitcoin can offer the world and what a future of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency would look like.

For Tomer, he wanted to bring to life the mysterious origin of cryptocurrency. He's since taken his book to over 100 children and has seen them really connect with the excitement of cryptocurrency.

"The story is so incredible: this guy appears out of nowhere. He's mysterious. Nobody knows who he is. He invents this thing that people say can't be invented. It endures the attacks of people, governments, and corporations, then he disappears and it changes the world. It's such an amazing story! I thought I had to tell this in a way that's consumable for kids. I ended up writing the story in sentences that are digestible for kids and the reception has been amazing."

2. Learning Bitcoin Mining Through Cards

Learning can be fun, especially when it comes to learning about something out-of-the-box like crypto. Learning through play is also an especially effective way for children to learn without actually realizing that they're learning.

Have you ever thought about learning crypto concepts through a card game?

Well, looks like you can.

Bitcoin enthusiast Scott created a board game called Shamory that teaches children and adults about the concept of mining Bitcoin and how the whole blockchain process works. Scott shares:

"It really was a fun way for us to start integrating crypto into a family or group atmosphere. Compared to when I started learning about Bitcoin, there's a lot more content about it now. However, the amount of information out there that is fun, easy, and accessible is limited. So that's where the idea came from. It's been an extremely rewarding experience. We've sent this game and our book to places around the world that we could have never imagined. I'm about to pack something that's going off to Kenya -it's just crazy to think of all the places that people are learning about Bitcoin."

3. Connecting Bitcoin & Crypto to Other Topics

Entrepreneur, Bitcoin enthusiast, and Galileo dad, Nathan Day, shares that he has found creative ways to connect cryptocurrency concepts with other skills that his kids are learning.

For him, there seemed to be a natural overlap between crypto and what his son was interested in and working on. Nathan shares:

"My son has a bunch of video games he's been working on. In addition, I'm working with him on the 'Start Your Own Business' nano-course which is provided by Galileo, but it's something that you do without a Galileo teacher walking you through it. So we're three weeks in now and we're talking about all the things you need to start a business up. So we're working out cost models and cash flows and all of that. But then we're talking about monetization - how do we earn money out of this game business?  So that's when we link the Bitcoin thread into it. So we set him up with a lightning wallet on his laptop and now he's going to integrate his own Bitcoin QR code into his launch page of the game."

Nathan is excited for what Bitcoin can offer future generations, and has already seen his children learning so much from what crypto can offer. Let's see what the future has in store!

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