"Teaching financial literacy shouldn't be lost in all the talk about math destreaming"
The desire to learn more about personal finance is insatiable
June 22, 2021 by Fred Masters, Special to the Waterloo Region Record https://www.therecord.com/opinion/2021/06/21/teaching-financial-literacy-shouldnt-be-lost-in-all-the-talk-about-math-destreaming.html
Guest - The Mike Farwell Show, 570News, Kitchener
June 17, 2021 - commenting on the new Ontario Grade 9 Math curriculum which contains new financial literacy content
Guest - The Morning Edition KW with Craig Norris, CBC Radio One KW 89.1 FM, Kitchener-Waterloo
August 10 , 2020 - commenting on students in KW to learn financial literacy this fall https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-104-the-morning-edition-k-w/clip/15791252-students-waterloo-region-learn-financial-literacy-fall
GLOBE & MAIL:
KIRA VERMOND SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL PUBLISHED AUGUST 3, 2020
When the government of Ontario released its new elementary school math curriculum on June 23, one thing became crystal-clear: Financial literacy was finally in the spotlight.
When Ontario schoolchildren head back to school this fall, they will for the first time be learning everyday financial skills such as how to e-transfer money, the ins and outs of compounding interest, how to determine the cost of loans and lines of credit, and – certified financial planners rejoice – planning for and reaching financial goals. Following the financial literacy guidelines, children in Ontario may actually gain the rudimentary financial planning skills needed to earn, spend and save wisely into adulthood.
That is, if everything goes according to plan. But that’s a big “if.” Even without the questionable timing of rolling out a new plan during a pandemic that could possibly unleash a second wave come fall, there is precedence showing that introducing mandatory financial literacy comes with challenges.
The elementary math update – the first since 2005 – comes one year after the province’s newly revised curriculum for the Grade 10 career studies course. That rollout has been problematic from the start, say some experts.
Launched July 2, 2019, and implemented last fall, the half-credit course represents the first time a financial literacy component has been mandatory in Ontario high schools, rather than merely slipped into elective business or accounting classes.
For Fred Masters, now a retired senior finance teacher at Resurrection Catholic Secondary School in Kitchener, Ont., that 2019 curriculum change – a culmination of countless meetings since 2016 and 29 pilot projects involving hundreds of students – meant an exciting opportunity for young people to learn real-world money management skills at school.
He should know. Before leaving teaching in 2018, Mr. Masters ran a lunchtime personal finance club for students.
“I didn’t know if anyone would give up their lunch period and listen to a teacher talk about money,” he says now. “And they came in waves. The sessions were packed. It was standing room only. Even the staff started to come.”
Now Mr. Masters is a financial literacy presenter, so when his former school board asked him last summer to create the teacher resource package for the financial literacy portion of the revised careers course, he wasn’t surprised. What did shock him was the curriculum document he had to work from.
“There were 19 course expectations in the new careers course, and only three dealt with financial literacy,” he says. “So that was just a huge missed opportunity for all students to learn key skills foundational for a successful life.”
What’s more, much of the financial literacy portion of the new course focuses on developing a post-high-school budget, leaving only five or six remaining hours to teach everything else. Fortunately, budgeting will be covered in Grade 8, according to the new elementary curriculum, so one hopes the students will already have basic knowledge to draw from.
Stacy Yanchuk Oleksy, director of education and community awareness for the Credit Counselling Society in Toronto, says the new high-school curriculum is a start, but would also like to see it cover topics such as how to pay bills and taxes. In other words, the boring but useful stuff – a deeper dive into what students will soon be expected to learn in grade school.
“As much as I appreciate Pythagorean theorem, I haven’t really used it too much in my everyday life,” she says. “We need to teach students really basic life skills so when they get into the world of work, they’re better prepared.”
Fred Masters, a retired senior finance teacher and president of Masters Money Management, developed a teacher resource package for the new mandatory Grade 10 career studies course. Although the curriculum is a first step in helping students become financially literate in high school, he would like to see three further changes: