Schools In the News: Financial Literacy Education

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Jan 06, 2015
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Career, Personal Finance, Financial Literacy, Schools In News
  • How did McCaskey High School (PA) Math Teacher Chris Hess make math more “relevant” to his students (Lancaster News)?:

When it comes to preparing students for real life, there may be no lesson more important than how to manage personal finances, Hess says. That’s why he started incorporating financial lessons into his calculus classes during a segment he calls Finance Friday.

Hess also has proposed a new financial algebra course for next year, which applies algebraic problems to everyday financial situations such as buying a home, filing taxes or starting a business. The school board approved the course in November as part of the the 2015-16 school curriculum.

  • Ames High School business teacher Rhonda Schmaltz describes her approach to teaching personal finance to high school juniors and seniors (Ames Tribune):

“We also cover a career unit, because I think it’s really important that the kids have a realistic look at maybe the career that they’re interested in going into, and making sure that there are going to be jobs there,” Schmaltz said. “I’ve just had too many kids that I know of that have gone to college, graduated and there weren’t any jobs in that major. So we want to make sure that they have a realistic look at what’s there and also what the potential is, or what the starting salary would be and what the potential for that career financially would be.”

  • Vermont seeks to improve the financial literacy of their citizens and draw the link between literacy and well-being (Valley News):

Allen, who also led the committee on improving financial literacy among adults, drew an explicit connection between an understanding of personal finances and improvement of the state’s overall well-being.  “I viewed this as a unique opportunity to promote economic development statewide,” Allen said.  The task force recommends introducing financial knowledge early in education. According to the group, only seven of 65 high schools have a financial literacy requirement.

  • Ontario, Canada weaving personal finance lessons into gym classes (Our Windsor):

Wallet Wellness, part of the health and physical education curriculum, looks at how financial choices affect a person’s overall wellbeing. Teachers can find online activity cards to use with elementary students.

With a tool called Need It! Want It!, students learn about U.S. psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, shown in a pyramid ranging from food and shelter at the bottom to self-actualization at the top. They are urged to define their own wants and needs and share them with the group.

With another tool, Class Party!, students plan a gathering, taking dietary limitations into consideration. Everything must be nut-free, one has a gluten allergy and five are vegetarian. The group uses a worksheet and grocery store flyers to plan the party and stick to a budget.

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

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