Since California is next door to BC, and teachers are now back at work, a huge survey of teachers on their attitudes towards teaching financial literacy courses was very interesting. I’d suggest the information wouldn’t be much different if it were done in BC. It’s also great feedback for parents, because, if it doesn’t happen in school, it’s gotta happen at home!
Here are a couple of the questions from the survey:
-When should financial literacy courses be introduced in school?
Two-thirds of teachers think it should be kindergarten to grade six at the latest. One-quarter think it should be by grade two. Think about that: It’s totally contradictory to what’s being done now – if it’s done at all! Kids that are lucky to even have a financial literacy course get it in grade 11 or 12 – if at all. It’s currently a P.S. to their education, and not the foundation of something they’ll need for life. Surely that can’t be up for discussion.
Kids start handling money (an allowance, gifts from grandparents, etc.) by age four, five or six. By the time the school system gives them some tools, it’s 10 to 12 years too late and all the habits – good or bad – are formed.
-The vast majority of teachers believe it finance courses should be taught as a stand-alone course as well as embedded into other courses. That simply means us money concepts in other courses. That’d be something that could be implemented next week!
Remember the old math examples: Train A is going 50km/h and train B is going at 40 km/h. Which train, etc. etc. Well, convert the examples to money lessons: Karen saves $20 a month and Sam saves $14 a month. At the end of the year, who has more money, and how much?
In higher grades, that can get to include fractions and percentages: Nigel has $2,000 invested at 3.5% compounded annually. How much money will he have at the end of three years? In Social Studies or English, it’d be pretty easy to do a book report or research project on researching a stock and defending their decision. Every student knows Walmart, Esso,The Gap, GM, Rona, and tons of other publicly traded companies with a ton of information available for research.
-What are the biggest obstacles to financial literacy courses?
Most teachers rate them as having the time. That wouldn’t be an issue if the information is at least integrated into other courses. Teachers, the people the front lines, think there are major challenges in implementing financial literacy classes – to the tune of 91% of them!
And one more insight from the survey: When teachers were asked about their own confidence level in understanding personal financial concepts, 42% confessed they were ‘not at all’ or only ‘somewhat’ confident…that doesn’t exactly inspire confidence…