Economic education workshop offers teachers valuable lessons on teaching financial literacy – archyde
Thirty high school teachers representing counties across the state are meeting at Campbell University’s Lundy-Fetterman School of Business this week to learn innovative ways to teach financial literacy and economic education in their respective schools. The workshop – born out of a partnership between the University and the North Carolina Council on Economic Education – aims to help teachers meet recent state mandates requiring students to receive a passing grade in this area in order to to graduate.
“We are thrilled that North Carolina is embracing this,” said Dr. Mark Hammond, vice president of academic affairs and provost of Campbell, in his welcome message on day one of the five-day workshop. “As a higher education institution, we demand certain skills from our students, and over the past two years, ensuring financial literacy has become an accreditation standard that we need to address. It is therefore very important to have students coming to North Carolina colleges and universities who have a fundamental understanding of economics and finance as part of their education. It is consistent with what we are looking for and what we have to do with our students as well.
The workshop gives teachers both a refresher course and new information on government and economic systems, the costs and benefits of trade, wealth creation and training students for high-demand jobs in the finance. Teachers earn a professional development certificate and have access to lesson plans and digital resources to attend.
Kenly Stewart, a first-grade teacher at Lakewood High School (Sampson County) and 2017 Campbell History graduate, is one of 30 teachers on campus this week. He sees the workshop as an opportunity to engage his students in topics that are often difficult for high school teenagers to tackle.
“I loved the economics and business classes I took with Dr. Mark Steckbeck when I was a student at Campbell,” Stewart said. “I hope these new resources – from podcasts to online games – will help me teach students to think like economists. Dr. Steckbeck taught me that economics is a field that is not limited to fundamentally, economics offers a way of thinking about and asking questions about the choices we make as individuals and as a society.
“My students are already asking themselves such questions. I just have to make them realize that in many ways they already think like economists.
Stewart, who teaches social studies at Lakewood in a classroom he says is very full of Campbell memorabilia and merchandise, said he thinks teaching financial literacy is important to help them not only to prepare for college or the road they take after graduation, but also to live “happy, joy-filled lives.”
“As grand as it sounds, financial literacy will help students avoid or reduce anxiety and in doing so, help them uplift their souls by giving them the freedom to wrestle with life’s biggest questions” , Stewart said. “Financial literacy, like everything I teach, is about giving my students the tools and knowledge to lead fulfilling lives.”
According to the government-funded website youth.gov, a recent survey of 15-year-olds in the United States found that 18% were unaware of fundamental financial skills often applied in everyday situations – from building a simple budget to comparing purchases and understanding an invoice. High school students scored an average of 48% on financial literacy exams, and only 27% of teens knew what inflation was or could do simple interest rate calculations.
Additionally, average student debt upon graduation from college rose from just over $18,000 in 2004 to nearly $29,000 in 2014.
Natasha Sell, a teacher at Harnett Central High School — who, along with Amber Sluder, a social studies teacher at Winston-Salem — called her previous experience with the economics education workshop “the best professional development I’ve attended in 20 year”.
“The amount of resources it provides [and] the amount of hands-on activity it provides, it was so helpful for my students,” Sell said. “Students have emailed me asking, ‘Can you send me that budgeting spreadsheet we did in class, because I’d like to use it in real life?’ For teachers, this stuff is really applicable in the classroom.