If you have followed the news lately, you have likely read about the looming college debt crisis. In October, the Economist published The Next Big Credit Bubble, and soon thereafter TIME Magazine published College Graduates Face Record-High Debt In the Age of Record-High Unemployment which is essentially saying the same thing. Some high school students are getting the message, and we need to make sure they react appropriately. College is an investment in yourself, and like any investment, you should spend the appropriate amount of money for the anticipated return on your investment. In other words, do not go $200,000 into debt majoring in French poetry.
One of the greatest obstacles to financial literacy is overcoming students' fear of certain financial tools. We need to teach them how to make informed and responsible choices using these same tools. Some students have told me that they do not want to go to college because they are afraid of being saddled with too much college debt. Others have told me they will never own a credit card. A healthy fear of a financial tool that has the power to be destructive is appropriate, yet fear should not be used as a barrier for learning how to use these tools responsibly.
Lesson Ideas for High School Financial Literacy
A Financial Literacy Clip (FLiC) is a sharing interface that allows high school students and young adults to create and exchange video messages. A practical lesson on debt is for students to create a 30 to 60 second FLiC about how they plan to pay for college. Have the students create their own rubrics, triggering deeper thought into what makes up a great video message.
The FLiC idea was the brainchild of FinLitTV.com, and I believe will serve as the leading social media educational tool in the future. FLiC's will allow students to share their creations with each other. I have found that when students are empowered to create educational content, within certain parameters and appropriate content incorporation, their creative minds manufacture products that are much more meaningful than a score on a standardized test.
As I mentioned in the first two articles of this series, I rely heavily on the Jump$tart National Standards as a roadmap for my lessons. Fortunately, there are plenty of additional support organizations for educators that are a keystroke away National Endowment for Financial Education, VISA's Practical Money Skills, Institute for Financial Literacy, Council for Economic Education, Experian's Credit Education Program, and BizWorld, (where I am a board member) are favorites of mine. You can find a complete list of resources in the teacher section of my student-run financial literacy organization TeenDollars.org.
Products to Support High School Financial Literacy Lessons
Here are some that I use. Please share any others that you like in the comments below.
If you are passionate about financial literacy and want to collaborate with fellow educators to bring personal finance into your classroom, please join us on Twitter for our next @FinEdChat on Wednesday, December 7th from 8:30-9:00pm, ET. Please feel free to vote for our next topic in advance of the chat.