On Friday, one of my students came to see me and started vent about his personal finance class. He said they were learning to open bank accounts, use checkbooks and write checks. He was surprised by how many of his classmates had never written checks. His observation sparked a conversation about what students should be learning in personal finance courses.

I was of the opinion that the basics should still be taught. My student, however, was of the opinion that writing checks isn’t as relevant to him as learning to use web applications to budget and track purchases. Could it be that our personal finance courses are fast becoming irrelevant to the 21st century student? Technology is outpacing and outmoding much of what comes to mind when we think of the traditional personal finance course. How should the curriculum adapt over the coming years?

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) sets forth ISTE standards (formerly known as NETS). In their standards for students, ISTE emphasizes the importance of digital fluency: “Students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology systems [and] use applications effectively and productively.”

Personal finance courses need to teach a new brand of financial literacy. One that is aligned with ISTE standards and the realities of a tech-centric world. Fluency in web and mobile applications should be a major focus of these courses. Why do students need to practice sales problems again and again when they can with a few clicks on their phone or computer use an application to compare prices across retail sites (like RedLaser)? I know that I’d be bored if I had to sit through a personal finance course the way it’s being taught today.

I came across an Edudemic article this week about financial literacy with loads of resources that furthered my thinking. The article, “16 of the Best Financial Literacy Resources of 2015” written by Joy Nelson, compiles lesson plans, resources and studies about the importance of financial literacy–integrating them all into one quick and worthwhile read. I will flesh out some of her most pressing resources and the ones I found independently below.

More Resources

Are you an elementary teacher looking for resources? Edutpia has you covered with resources for elementary financial literacy instruction.

NEA Lessons on financial literacy has lessons, lesson sets, resources, standards and games. Loads of resources for financial literacy educators.

US Mint has a page loaded with resources, activities, background information and lessons/ideas. Definitely worth a look.


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