# 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.