I decided to start my research by looking at how personal finance (financial literacy) is currently being taught both here in Canada and in other countries around the world. I quickly realized that this is actually a topic that there is a lot of interest in and that over the last decade there have been a lot of schools (divisions/districts) that have made offering personal finance education mandatory. From what I can tell the format varies a lot from place to place and this is what interests me the most right now. How can the personal finance education be offered in a meaningful way? Are the ways that it is currently being taught working? What seems to be working the best?
My initial feelings toward HOW personal finance education is offered is that it needs to be a course on its own and should be a Grade 11/12 requirement for Graduation. I think that it could be an equivalent of a Math course for graduation and make it optional, but there needs to be an emphasis on its importance. If the topics of the course are split up and imbedded within different curricula I think you would lose the value of the content by making it an easy to teach superficially topic in already packed curricula. Another concern I see with splitting up the personal finance topics into other courses is that it will be harder to have knowledgeable teachers with current knowledge in the field teaching the material.
This splitting up of the content is what was done in Ontario. This article from the Globe & Mail in November of 2009 tells of the 2011 implementation date for personal finance topics required to be offered. The article doesn’t go into detail about how it will be taught, but just tells that personal finance topics will be offered in courses that will be integrated into their existing curricula. Casey Cosgrove, the director for the Canadian Center for Financial Literacy is quoted in the article stating that he thinks it is a good move to integrate the content in to multiple courses instead of having a course stand alone. I am interested to know why he believes this. I can see how putting all of the content in one course could be a problem if students aren’t required to take the course and it becomes a course that exists, but that no one takes. But if it were a required course I still think that would be a great option.
Reading this article has made me excited to learn that there is government support in Ontario for education teaching financial management skills. I am also glad to see that there is some funding being provided to a task force to spend time planning the implementation and seeing where the content will best fit in order for the content to be successful instead of just mandating the implementation. I am fairly new to the education curriculum world, but in my teaching experience I have heard a lot of complaints about top-down government initiatives that seem like a good idea but fail to be properly funded and developed and instead fall on to the plates of teachers to deal with. I hope this isn’t another one of those failed initiatives based on implementation practices.
“We were not taught financial literacy in school. It takes a lot of work and time to change your thinking and to become financially literate.” -Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad book series teaching finance skills to children