Debt is Bad!
Over two years ago, I began teaching personal finance. Before that, I only taught your basic business classes: intro to business, entrepreneurship, management, and marketing. This was a new realm for me and I was excited to create lessons. In the span of the two years teaching the course, one thing is certain: EVERY student who graduates from high school needs to take a personal finance class.
- 77% of American households have debt
- The average American has $58,604 in debt
These are staggering numbers and one way to reduce them is to teach the importance of being financially responsible EARLY!
Fortunately, this past year, my state, Michigan, along with 12 other states has made one semester of personal finance a graduation requirement. Organizations such as Next Gen Personal Finance are spearheading the cause and have been instrumental in making this a possibility.
Aha Moment! It Hits Home
So when did I have my "aha" moment that personal finance is a must for every single student who walked the school halls? There were many!
As I listened to students asking questions like:
- What is credit?
- What is interest?
- What happens if I don’t pay my debt?
- Should I take out student loans?
- How do I start investing?
- What is a credit card?
- Why do I need to save?
I knew that these young adults needed the tools to help them be financially responsible adults once they graduated.
Personally, it also hit home. My daughter struggles financially and with her approval I use her battles as examples when teaching the content. Is this TMI? No. I want my students to understand the importance of what they are learning and what it is like in "adulthood." And this works! The dialogue that ensues is wonderful. It is informative, engaging, and inquisitive and it is then that they understand why they are in this class. I did not want them to be a statistic.
Teachers: What Can You Do?
Hopefully, your state is one of the states that require personal finance as a graduation requirement. If it is not, make it happen! Contact your local legislation to get more information on how to begin. But first, reach out to your school board and make your pitch for personal finance to be a math elective or senior math credit. This is what we did in our district until the passage of legislation this past June.
Here is a documentary video from NGPF that follows eight students and teachers and their story about personal finance. It is powerful and a good starting point to show your school board.
Helpful Personal Finance Resources
In helping me provide relevant, engaging content, I have used many resources/curricula to create lessons. The following are great to mix and match in building your lessons for your students:
So, if you don’t have personal finance as a course in your school, let the stats be your guiding force on why it is the most important class to offer EVERY student!
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