November 13, 2020
How long have you been teaching financial education?
This is my second year.
Why do you teach financial education?
I also teach Statistics and Calculus in the Math Department at Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn, New York and our state does not have a financial literacy course requirement. A few years ago, in Statistics class, the term "interest" came up in one of our class discussions on the prime rate. Most of these high school seniors were unable to explain the term. In a very short time, each of them will be using credit cards, taking out student loans, and visiting casinos. Poly Prep has an economically diverse student body that ranges from the wealthy and all across the economic horizon of New York City. Very few of our students knew about Wall Street, the Federal Reserve Bank, and other financial markets, all of which are only a few subway stops from our school. The need was there and UChicago presented the opportunity.
How is this different from other courses you have taught?
The course provides a good framework for students to take ownership of their own financial well-being. They talk about their own personal values, goals, attitudes, and how they can affect their decision making. They take a lot out of it and understand that they will need this information in the "real world." This class teaches actual skills needed in the real world, no matter what subject area you study.
What do students like most about the course?
Let’s hear from the students, themselves, on this issue.
“I like that this course is inclusive of students of all economic backgrounds. In our lesson yesterday, I appreciate that we acknowledged and disproved prejudices that are associated with certain financial services like payday loans and cash checking. I think that unlike most courses, this course is actually applicable to any future career path—we need to learn to manage and save the money we earn.” — Samantha, Class of 2021
“I enjoy the depth of the material and making sense of what my family has talked about in the past. It's really interesting to see how our actions impact our financial future and the risks we take regarding our financial well-being.” — Rahima, Class of 2021
How does your school fit a single-semester course into its curriculum?
We offer Financial Literacy to both Juniors and Seniors as a fall elective. In the spring, there are other electives. Economics is a logical follow-up.
Were there any challenges to implementing?
There was concern that the students would not sign up in sufficient numbers. Many teachers and administrators asked if they also could sign up!
Do you have any implementation tips or successes that you want to share with others?
Try to be as honest as possible about your own financial experiences. We have all made financial mistakes, many of which we are reluctant to share. Talking about our own personal mistakes and errors with our students is a good way to have them feel comfortable about things they have experienced and seen happen at home.