Saturday, November 3, 2012

A researched-based argument to integrate financial literacy

The Rand Corporation just shared a summary of the results of decades of research that identifies nine lessons on how to teach 21st century skills and knowledge. Clearly, the first four lessons make a compelling argument for the integration of financial literacy skills in elementary grades. The national trend seems to be to wait until high school, that is if students are left all together to wait and learn from the school of hard knocks. The release of this research is timely, as teachers across the country are beginning to implement the new Common Core State Standards.

"As Thomas Friedman put it in a recent New York Times column, globalization compounds the urgency for students to develop the skills and knowledge they need for economic and civic success in the 21st century. Yet despite widespread agreement among parents, educators, employers and policymakers worldwide that students need skills like critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork and creativity, these skills are stubbornly difficult to teach and learn.

The "transmission" model, through which teachers transmit factual knowledge via lectures and textbooks, remains the dominant approach to compulsory education in much of the world. Students taught through this method typically do not practice applying knowledge to new contexts, communicating it in complex ways, solving problems or developing creativity. In short, as our new paper lays out, it is not the most effective way to teach 21st century skills.

Decades of empirical research about how individuals learn, however, provide valuable insight into how pedagogy can address the need for 21st century skills. Indeed, the research suggests nine lessons that inform how to teach these skills:

Make it relevant. The relevance of learning specific knowledge and skills is much clearer to students—and much more motivating—if they understand how a given topic fits into "the big picture," or a meaningful context.

Teach through the disciplines. Students develop their 21st century skills and knowledge as they learn why each academic discipline is important, how experts create new knowledge, and how they communicate about it.

Develop lower and higher order thinking skills—at the same time. Students need to comprehend relationships between given variables and how to apply this understanding to different contexts.

Encourage transfer of learning. Students need to develop the ability to apply skills, concepts, knowledge, attitudes and/or strategies they develop in one context, situation or application to another, reflexively (low-road transfer) or after deliberate thought and analysis (high-road transfer)."

Click here to read the full summary or download the research paper. Click here to download the K-12 Jump$tart Personal Finance National Standards. Click here for an e-binder of resources for financial literacy integration.

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