When the stock market crashed in the fall of 1987, I was a high school history teacher. I didn't know much about stocks or investing at the time, but suddenly I was interested in the topic. More importantly, so were my students. I quickly threw together some lessons on the market, and I had my students create mock portfolios and track the progress of their "investments." We all learned.

The time is again ripe for financial education. Odds are, you appreciate the need for it because you wish that you'd learned more about money management and investing in school; few of us ever learned such things there. If you'd had such an education, you'd probably have begun investing in your 20s, if not earlier. Look at the kinds of returns you might have enjoyed over the past 25 years:

Company

25-Year Avg. Annual Return

General Dynamics (NYSE:GD)

20%

General Mills (NYSE:GIS)

16%

Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG)

15%

Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO)

15%

Merck (NYSE:MRK)

13%

Target (NYSE:TGT)

13%

Boeing (NYSE:BA)

10%

Data: Yahoo! Finance.

Just $5,000 invested in Procter & Gamble would have become more than $160,000. A mere $3,000 plunked into General Dynamics would have turned into more than $270,000. Even Boeing would have increased your investment tenfold.

I recently read that interest in economics has spiked, with more students taking econ courses in college, and even deciding to major in it. A New York high school teacher has also seen a surge in interest. "The inner-city kids were kind of indifferent, [but now] all of a sudden, you see it's clicking. They're getting it. Last year, it was more like feeding them the information."

What to do
So what can you do about this? Plenty! Help The Motley Fool get more financial education into schools. Join with us in our annual Foolanthropy campaign, where we're raising money for Donors Choose, a nifty outfit that gets small sums of money to teachers who have great plans for their students, but need resources. Invest in a class and you'll likely hear back from the students and the teacher on how the lesson went. I made my first donation recently -- won't you to take a few minutes to learn more about it?

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Coca-Cola, which is a stock recommendation of the analyst team leading Motley Fool Inside Value to market-beating results. Try any of the Fool's investing newsletters free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.