Context for the Classroom

The NY Times article, Working Financial Literacy, argues that Americans need to learn about bucks and banking (or money and management) in school.

Literacy Expands

What is “financial literacy”? Even if the article doesn’t define it in the first paragraphs, thinking of what “financial illiteracy” could mean may lead us to think of the trouble that we’re in right now. I remember learning how to write a check in sixth grade. As part of a special in-class program, we also learned a little bit about buying stocks and followed a few selected companies. But when do I learn about appropriate prices, or how to do my taxes? Thanks to the internet, there’s some opportunity for folks to teach themselves, but sources can not always be trusted.

Link Research to Reality

The internet has revolutionized the way society works. Now it takes about 3 seconds to look up facts and those who have been calling for education reformation now have more evidence than ever to support the notion that we need to teach kids how they can teach themselves–independent learning. A teacher can be the top resource in the class, not necessarily a dictator of information. When educators provide context to their lesson, suddenly everything becomes more meaningful.

Why not talk about economics by using the average income of the area in which one teaches? Why not discuss what student loans really mean to students? Schools are already overwhelmed with information/skills/strategies necessities, but integration can help a lot. Context provides opportunity for integration.

When teachers know their students, they can guide their lesson planning to create meaningful contexts in which the lesson occurs. Personal finance can extend beyond the realm of economics–what mathematical ideas can coincide? What about discussing current events in terms of the economy? Or discussing nutrition as part of a budget–or the effects of industry-budgets on the environment.

Sure, it sounds like a no-brainer, but why isn’t there consistency among all schools. Why aren’t we doing all of this now already?

–Mandy

Flickr photo courtesy of billerickson

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1 Comment

Filed under Thoughts on Teaching

One response to “Context for the Classroom

  1. Stephanie

    I am a firm believer that teachers need to be familiar with their students. By relating material to their students lives, they are more likely to understand and comprehend the material. I also think by establishing a relationship with your students they will be more open minded to your teaching.

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