The following article, featuring CFEE’s President Gary Rabbior, appears in the June 2020 issue of Professionally Speaking – the publication produced by the Ontario College of Teachers.
“Show me the money.” That was the message delivered by 6,000 young people, courtesy of a survey conducted by the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education (CFEE). “Students want financial education. Teachers will find that students are usually very engaged and very motivated when it comes to learning about money,” says CFEE president Gary Rabbior. We asked Rabbior to share how CFEE’s programs can bring financial education into the classroom.
Why is it important to teach financial literacy to students?
Youth need to learn to stay in control of their financial life to avoid future financial stress and anxiety — and be able to achieve personal happiness within their own limits.
It is important to help students know how to make wise money decisions. This includes the key step of always considering trade-offs. Each money decision entails giving up something today or in the future.
What are the barriers to effective financial literacy instruction?
Financial literacy is misunderstood.Too often there is a focus on “math” and calculations and interest. Knowledge is more likely to stick if there is a focus on developing relevant behaviours and skills and engaging students in active, participatory learning.
How can CFEE support financial education?
CFEE has a wide variety of resources available through our website (cfee.org) for students of all ages. Our Money and Youth book and website (moneyandyouth.com) are popular with students in Grades 9 to 12. Free class sets of the book, in English and French, are available with only the cost of shipping.
Our “Talk With Our Kids About Money” program is used from Grades 4 to 10 with lesson plans linked to each province’s curriculum.
Our teacher workshops can be tailored according to teachers’ interests and needs. There is no cost and they can be provided in English or French.
What’s next for the CFEE?
CFEE has just received funding to start work on an online instructional program for youth with the working title FinLit 101. CFEE is also in discussions with those working in the mental health field to learn more about the link between financial health and mental health and well-being. Research is showing a very strong correlation between the two.
What advice do you have for teachers who are interested in teaching financial literacy?
The focus should be on the development of life-relevant skills and behaviours that help prepare students, not only for future financial life, but life in general. There is opportunity for hands-on learning, which is always attractive to both teachers and students — and has very positive results when it comes to retention. Many teachers, like many parents, have learned a lot along the way — and have perhaps made mistakes that they can help students avoid.
By Laura Bickle