the words "financial education" and a megaphone

3 steps to implementing a 21st-century financial education curriculum

Although financial literacy is only a small part of a student’s life, it is an absolutely crucial one

Exchanging the old for the new

Students are facing a financial marketplace that is dynamic, sophisticated, and digital. To deal with a constantly changing economy, I work with students to help them build critical-thinking skills that can support them through the unknown.

At the start of the semester, students create a financial-wellbeing map that they’ll use throughout the year. From there, every part of the curriculum is woven together into one cohesive life plan.

I’ve found collaboration to be incredibly useful for teaching consumer finance. I regularly teach short, integrated activities where students work together through lessons, which is interesting to observe since every student has a unique financial background.

For example, in one of the first modules, I have students write down items that they deem essential for financial wellbeing and then compare these with a partner. Then, as a group, we discuss discrepancies and how factors such as income, stability, and liabilities can impact individual viewpoints on wealth.

When we have students reflect, we are helping them build critical research skills that benefit them in navigating the inevitable challenges that will come up in their lives after graduation. Exchanging the old way of delivering information to a new way that helps to develop fundamental attitudes and skills is an incredibly important characteristic of finEDge.

Personalizing the experience

Our financial system doesn’t provide every student with the same choices and opportunities. Many traditional financial education curricula don’t account for this, so they are automatically ineffective for most students. In order to equip students with sound financial literacy skills, it’s important to first consider whether the curriculum you’re teaching addresses barriers to financial success.

I’ve had students whose parents have discussed finances with them from a young age and students who haven’t had any exposure to personal finance whatsoever. Many homework assignments in finEDge require students to discuss various financial situations with family and peers, and I’ve found that this is helping to bridge the gap between home and school.

Although a financial education class is only a small part of a student’s life, it is absolutely crucial that we give students equal access to the knowledge and resources they need to navigate their individual economic environments and work towards success in school, work, and life.

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