Making the connections – Mathematics and consumer and financial literacy

I actually really like
the MoneySmart program because of the interactive nature
of the units of work. They’re all based
on real-life situations. And they were a resource
that was already there and able to be
used immediately by teachers. It was a really good introduction of how they could actually use
financial literacy very, very easily within the curriculum. It helped me to realize that the kids just really
need a purpose, like they — it’s so important
that it’s relevant to them. It’s important that they know
why they’re learning something. And I think that the MoneySmart program
helped me to just really drill that and really communicate to the kids that this is why you’re learning,
and these are the skills that you’re gaining
from these experiences. And these are how they’re going
to help you in the future. So I think that for me, personally, as the beginning teacher, I saw the importance
of making the learning experiences authentic and relevant to the context of the children
in their lives, and how that impacted on
how they’re engaging in the activities. So there are probably
three major things that we had to unpack for the teachers. The first was where financial literacy actually fit in the maths curriculum, the second was
the financial literacy framework, and how that fit
with the maths curriculum, and also, you know, what we need to engage
students with mathematics. So I introduced them to my framework
for engagement with mathematics, and all of those three things
came together. And we looked at the units of work through the lenses
of those three things. Both Anne Gashisbee and myself had taught
a MoneySmart unit of work, and from there, we found
our kids were — they were enjoying
the interactive hands-on experiences that were taking place
throughout those units. So we tried really hard
when it was our turn to develop a unit of work
for our students, taking into account their needs, their curiosities and abilities. We tried to incorporate bits and pieces that we had experienced in the initial unit
in this unit of work. So basically, this unit has come about through a combination
of lots of different things, but being pieced together
in the money museum, which the kids have designed and put so much work into it in terms of not just the financial
literacy aspects of what we’ve been teaching,
but other mathematical skills and ideas as well. So, you know, the kids did lots of work
on data collection and analysing the data,
graphing the data. They did work on measurement in terms of measuring the area,
measuring the space we had, getting lots of work
on budgeting and looking at loans, and having to work out how much money they would need
to charge people, and how much money
they needed to borrow in order to purchase things
and get things set up. So there’s been lots and lots
of mathematics involved, but it’s also all your working mathematically
has been there as well. All the fluency and the problem-solving has been a really prominent aspect
of the unit, which obviously is extremely important to have that working mathematically
at the core of everything that we do. I certainly think
their teaching skills will change. I think they’ll move towards more hands-on tasks, projects where the children
actually see things happening, they do things,
it’s more active. It’s not worksheet based, it’s not textbook based, it’s real life and it’s relevant and purposeful. And that’s where true learning happens. It’s student-centered,
not teacher-centered. I think the advice
I would give pre-service teachers, and any other teachers, is not
to focus so much on teaching maths, for example, one outcome at a time. Look at the big picture of maths. Look at the big picture
of financial literacy. How can you develop units of work that are meaningful
and purposeful for students, because that’s when
they’re going to learn. Okay, you can learn
maths skills separately, but without purpose,
they have no meaning. Children won’t remember them. If you learn them within the context
of financial literacy as an example, it’s going to have much more meaning. They have a reason
to learn the mathematic skills, and they have somewhere to apply it
in a meaningful and purposeful way.