Submission by Guest Author
Financial literacy is vital to success in life and should be a part of any young person's education. By learning how finances work, young people will understand how, and why, to plan carefully as they make key financial decisions later in life.
Why Financial Literacy Should Be Taught in Schools
Failure to acquire financial literacy can lead to catastrophic crises, such as bankruptcies, foreclosures, evictions, homelessness, inability to cover emergency expenses, inability to obtain desired medical or dental services, and other dire yet avoidable scenarios.
Conversely, acquiring skills in personal finance management can enable one to enjoy financial stability and earn exponentially more — through long-term investing — than one can from one’s salary.
Financial literacy empowers an individual to live happily, healthily and securely throughout his or her life. Consider financial security impacts every facet of life including:
● Career choices
● Stress levels
● Home Buying and renting
● Raising children
● Dining, travel and entertainment
● Health care
Understand How the World Works
Financial literacy also includes understanding how financial markets work. It will need to cover stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, and commodities, as well as the world’s great exchanges, like the London Metal Exchange, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and Intercontinental Exchange.
Such an education will also include the various instruments that can be used for investments, such as options, futures, and other securities. And it should include basic ways that students can analyze their investment choices such as comparing real estate investments to gold.
Understanding these things will help students better grasp the meaning of national, regional, and world events. And it will provide the groundwork for a lifetime of delayed gratification — saving and investing.
Stability of a Nation
Sounds finances also bolster the stability of a country. For example, research shows that the most stable societies are those where the majority of citizens diligently save and can therefore provide for themselves in emergencies and in retirement. The latter is particularly important, as with health care advances, people are living longer and need a larger “nest egg” than in decades past, in order to retire comfortably.
Savings rates vary between nations: China has one of the world’s highest rates, its citizens save an average of 25% of each paycheck. By contrast, Americans are an average of over $90,000 in debt. But during the uncertainty of the pandemic, the average savings rate of Americans reached over 32%. By contrast, their savings rate averaged between 6%-8% over the preceding decade.
That said a nation’s debt also plays a factor in the stability of a nation, and helping students understand America’s debt can help them become informed voters.
Understanding financial markets, including how commodities and stock exchanges work, as well as securities, is essential.
In a survey conducted by Credit Karma and Qualtrics, 63% of participants said they wanted financial literacy taught in schools.
Yet, while there's great consensus about the need for financial literacy in education, opinions on how, exactly to implement that objective vary. For instance, in that survey, roughly one-third each of respondents believed financial literacy education should begin in elementary, middle or high school, with small outliers, comprising about 5%, believing it should begin in college.
Steps for Implementing Financial Literacy in Education
In 2007, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau published, "A guide for advancing K-12 financial education" to help resolve some of these questions and to help educational institutions implement such programs. In this report, the authors parse the daunting project into a sequence of digestible actions:
Implementing financial literacy into the education systems of various school districts, each with its own unique set of challenges and resources, will require careful attention, and perhaps adaptation to concerns about equal accessibility to knowledge.
Financial literacy education must be implemented equally and uniformly across all districts and economic spectrums if it is to truly be effective in uplifting and securing the future of subsequent generations.
Next Gen Personal Finance published a report in 2018 called, "Who Has Access to Financial Education in America", which found that, in the poorest areas, the percentage of students required to complete a personal finance course in order to graduate high school was the smallest.
For instance, access to technology plays a major role in how effective such a program can be in any given community. Many banks and brokerages now have mobile apps their customers can download onto their smartphones and mobile devices. In many cases, these apps include tutorials not only on utilizing the functions of the software but on better managing one's personal finance, from keeping a checkbook to creating a budget and saving and investing.
Digital tools, like ClassCast Podcast create on-demand content giving students an even deeper dive into some of the more specific topics and challenges they may face in their financial education and lives.
Using financial apps and digital tools, however, requires a means with which to use them. Despite the ubiquity of smartphones, some students still don't have them. Many don't have computers at home either, or ones they can access or that have access to the internet. All of these technological obstacles must be overcome in order for students to have equal access to learning financial literacy using these tools.
Ways schools and districts can support greater access to the technology needed to run financial apps include:
The Role of Games
There are currently many games on the market, such as CashFlow, that provide a fun, engaging way to learn about financial management and to be rewarded for making the right choices.
Games provide an immersive, playful experience. Players get immediate feedback and learn through iterative actions and benevolent competition.
Importantly, academic research shows that games are effective educational tools.
Conveniently, there are financial games available for all age levels. Some games are designed to be played in the classroom. Some are downloadable apps. And others are designed to be played online in a browser.
Here are some examples of popular games:
In Summary: A Team Effort
If basic financial skills aren't taught in schools, where else will students learn them? Unless parents take on teaching their kids financial literacy or individuals seek it out themselves later in life, schools are the only places where these vital skills may be instilled.
Incorporating programs teaching these skills into classrooms requires the focused and combined effort of teachers, administrators, students, parents and the community at large. As the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction laid out, it requires a clear mission and vision and must be relevant, learner-centered yet community-focused and connected to the standards of the educational system. It must also be properly integrated with other curricular areas, supported with sufficient resources and continuously evaluated and adjusted for effectiveness. If done right, however, schools can help their graduates go on to lead happier, healthier and more secure and prosperous lives.
"Closing the Financial Literacy Gap"; Laura Zingg, Teach for America
"Resources and Downloads for Financial Literacy"; Edutopia
By Ryan Tibbens
Public school teachers will attend tens of millions of hours of division-prescribed professional development this year. Almost none of it will help teachers learn more about ‘what’ to teach and ‘why’ to teach it. Nearly all of it will focus on ‘how’ to teach. That is ridiculous.
First, let’s acknowledge the power of pedagogy and honing one’s craft. Teachers should be constantly learning and sharing methods, increasing their arsenal of strategies to engage and affect an increasingly distracted and diverse student body. Teachers must also work purposefully to learn about new technologies and how to implement them (or not) in order to build “21st Century Skills.” Professional development must always include a consistent and sincere focus on pedagogy.
However, ‘how’ to teach is useless if the teacher does not know ‘what’ to teach or ‘why’ to teach some topics in depth, others in brief, and others not at all. Because teachers have traditionally been regarded as gatekeepers of knowledge, and because the first requisite qualification for work is a college degree in the discipline, many people falsely assume that teachers already know enough about their content. That is patently untrue.
Before we even worry about content-specific knowledge, let’s consider teachers’ general academic aptitudes. On average, teachers scored below average on the SAT when they were in high school. 54% of elementary teaching candidates fail the Praxis I test on their first try. Most data indicate that teachers have an average IQ of, well, around average. Praxis II (content-specific test) data is harder to come by, but even basic score ranges indicate great variation and suspicious pass rates. I’ve heard more teachers make the “Cs get degrees” joke than I care to count.
I’m not arguing that teachers are stupid. Most teachers are smart, hardworking, and functional in the classroom. Approximately 10% of teachers earned SAT scores in the top 20% (still a striking underrepresentation though). I’m simply arguing that teachers, on average, are average (particularly in lower grade levels). And we can all probably agree that, on average, we don’t remember too much detail from our own public schooling. But that’s what college is for, right? Uh-oh. Check out what the National Council on Teacher Quality found in a survey of elementary teacher preparation programs:
The teacher does not need to be the most intelligent person in the room based on IQ, but the teacher does need to be the most knowledgeable, the most aware, and the most (justifiably) confident. I remember being in classes when there was no doubt that the teacher was in the bottom half based on IQ and only somewhere around the top quarter based on content knowledge – it was the worst part of school for me.
So what do we do? Let’s get real. Let’s stop pretending that pedagogy and technology are the only things that teachers need to be trained on. If we’re going to sit through dozens of hours of mandatory professional development each year, is it crazy for a couple days to address content knowledge? Public school leaders always talk about creating “life-long learners” and “critical thinkers,” but how is that a likely outcome when teachers don’t learn more about their content? How can we promote interdisciplinary connections and PBL if we don't learn more about the other subjects their students study? If you don’t know stuff, you can’t think stuff; and if you can’t think stuff, then you can't do much. Let’s empower our teachers.
Pedagogy is great. Technology is fine. But if we spend all our time worrying about “how” to teach without supporting “what” and “why,” then we’ve done our teachers, our taxpayers, and, most importantly, our students a great disservice. Bring back content-based professional development to inspire teachers’ curiosity, passion, and overall performance.
Advice for new college students. Read. Remember. Congratulations, you're ready to graduate. (Yes, it really does go by that quickly.) By Ryan Tibbens
When you arrive at your dorm, be nice and be confident. Don't be too cool to hug your parents. If dudes in the dorm feel hostile, pretend like you're in prison and punch the biggest guy in the face as hard as you can to establish dominance. Go to every class, even if they don't take attendance. Read everything they tell you to read, even if they don't seem to use it. Take notes by hand. If possible, set aside time in your weekday schedule for short naps, gym visits, and library sessions. Get involved in dorm activities. Join a club. Don't rush until second semester or sophomore year or maybe at all. Use professors' office hours. Start studying three days before you think you need to. Pack extra Febreze. Start lining up next year's living arrangements two weeks before anybody else brings it up. Beer before liquor, never been sicker. Don't talk to cops. Don't walk in the street. Don't call or text after midnight. Don't do anything I wouldn't do, and don't do some things I would.
What advice would YOU give rising freshmen as they head off to college for the first time? Leave some wisdom in the comment section below.
By Ryan Tibbens
Check out the CONTEST at the end of this article!
A new teacher recently asked for advice, claiming 'impostor syndrome.'
This was my response:
"Fake it 'til you make it, and don't be too upset if you never really feel like you make it (just trust student feedback and results). Ask for help; beg, borrow, and steal. Then steal more. Make the kids laugh in class and nervous when the grades are due. Make parents and principals confident; make students curious and aware. Make time for yourself. Find your favorite beer or wine, and keep it on hand. Find your favorite students and build bonds, but never let them or anyone else know that you have favorites. Tell yourself you'll go to bed early, and don't be surprised when it's 2am. Tell yourself you'll get up early, and don't be surprised when kids arrive at your classroom door before you do once in a while. Specialize in something. Attend as many conferences and as much professional development as you can in the first five years and then semi-regularly after that. Watch 'The Dog Whisperer.' Get on a first-name basis with the main office secretary and custodians as soon as possible (they run the school). Always be yourself: kids sense phonies like bees sense fear. Oh, and apply for other, better jobs ASAP."
ENTRIES ARE CLOSED -- Are/were you a teacher, coach, classified employee, or school administrator? Were you an observant student? We're offering a $20 Amazon.com gift card to the person who submits the best ORIGINAL advice to beginning teachers. Keep entries under 200 words and appropriate for classroom discussion. ReadThinkWriteSpeak must receive at least eight entries to activate the contest and prize, so tell your friends. Contact us using the form below, email, or private messages in Facebook or Twitter. Top submissions will be posted and voted upon in mid-July. All entries due by 7/10/2019.
Because no one else