I’ve been teaching for quite some time and when I’m often asked what I teach. The exchange always goes something like this:
“What subject do you teach?”
“I teach financial literacy”
Immediately followed by, “What’s that?”.
I have few versions of the response, “Well, it’s how to take care of your money, like understanding banking, credit cards, renting apartments, getting insurance, paychecks and taxes, and the list goes on..”
Their response, ”I wish they had taught that when I was in school!”
Consumer economics classes have been around for a long time, but it seems that today’s economy highlighted its importance to the general public. I was brought up with an the old school way of thinking where the man of the house handled the money, but in today’s society, every person is tested day in, day out on their financial competency. It’s a critical skill. Money management needs to be an individual responsibility, handled in your own way. From children learning to manage small amounts of money to the adults who share in financial decision-making for the family, building financial literacy is a life-long pursuit.
We hear more and more about the expected outcomes of education, many observers noting how our schools are falling short. No school system is perfect but there are many great examples of ways we are serving the needs of the modern student. Financial literacy is a topic that does not have a state mandated testing requirement and, in most states, is not a required course, but it teaches life skills that are very necessary for our students. I tell my students that they may never quote Shakespeare or use the Pythagorean theorem after they finish school, but they will use every bit of what they learn in financial literacy class for the rest of their lives. I’ve seen the skills taught in my classroom applied in the “real world” and it serves as a reminder that we must prepare our students for success both in and outside of the classroom.
The Path to Financial Literacy…2.0
Over 17 years of teaching financial literacy, I’ve found that learning about money management can be boring if it’s not done right. I’ve spent a lot of my time trying to make it interesting and relevant to my students. I’ve always been fascinated with employing technology in my classroom and began using online resources as soon as a computer lab became available. I was introduced to the EverFi Financial Literacy Platform a few years ago and immediately knew this would both educate and engage my students. After I began using it with my class, I was very pleased with the results. The students were genuinely focused on the modules and enjoyed the innovative approach. All would be well if I had regular access to computers for my students, but since my course is an elective I’ve got low priority in booking computer lab time.
After searching for 7 years, I was able to secure grant funding to get a mobile computer lab for my classroom. With easier access to computers, I am working to reach 100% certification from my current students. We are in the middle of the program, but I have a good feeling about our certification levels for this semester!
The Age of Context
With digital learning on the rise, it’s important to make sure that our students are guided toward using technology for learning. They are incredibly adept at using technology for entertainment, but they need to develop habits using it as a resource to support critical thinking. Every student can” google” an answer, but once that is done, it’s our role as educators to encourage them to contextualize and synthesize the information. In “googling” financial literacy education materials for my class, I received thousands of hits, but the critical step is determining what blend of resources met my students’ needs.
It seems that financial literacy is a hot topic. Everyone with money to spend has a suggestion and their own version of the best way to become financially literate. It can be overwhelming to get through. The EverFi Platform has helped cut through the noise. Integrating this platform into my curriculum has allowed for topics to be covered with personalized feedback and a blend of both instruction and assessment.
At the start of my class, I have to explain to my students the importance of financial literacy. By the end, they are excited to become EverFi Certified in financial education! They’re proud of their achievement and I’m proud of them.