Financial technology education

Students are digital natives and have access to complex and costly choices at their fingertips. Whether via their mobile phone, television remote control, or gaming console, they can accrue significant expenses in the name of entertainment.

They are also subject to new forms of financial risk and deception, including unwanted calls and scam emails and texts. All of these ‘fintech’ (financial technology) developments and issues warrant teaching about.

In what ways are your students financially active, and how is your school preparing them for informed financial participation?

The Australian Curriculum includes finance within the Humanities and Social Sciences (HaSS) –where economics and business is taught – and the Mathematics learning areas. Additionally, numeracy is a general capability and all teachers are expected to teach students to transfer and use their mathematical knowledge and skills in other disciplines and outside the mathematics classroom. The idea is to help students to recognise the interconnected nature of knowledge as it is drawn upon and applied in the real world.

Curriculum authorities trust schools to decide how to tailor financial education to meet students’ needs and interests. The task is not easy. School leaders and teachers inevitably require professional learning and support to imagine and design local programs that might effectively address what students need to know, in dynamically changing financial times.

Schools can start from the bottom up with curriculum area teams reviewing existing programs and how they might be strengthened. Here, passionate teams of teachers drive change at the classroom level.

The other approach is from the top down, where school leaders and teachers prioritise financial education and work together to complete a more holistic curriculum review across disciplines. This approach has worked well in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), for example.

Either way, it is useful to start by thinking about students’ interests and how they’re currently engaging and interacting in the world. Look for the mathematics that can be applied to their financial activities (Sakurai et al., 2021) and ways to support them in making informed financial decisions.

You have probably seen students complete invisible, cashless transactions at school. Consider these examples:

  • Using tap ‘n’ go at the school canteen.
  • Having access to streaming video on demand, plus music and gaming subscription services.
  • Playing online games and making in-game purchases, which can involve virtual currency.
  • Online shopping; buy now pay later schemes; making price comparisons and thinking about what represents ‘good value’; making secure transactions.

While teachers believe that financial education is important, they don’t tend to see themselves as financial educators. We meet many capable teachers who lack confidence to design and deliver financial education. Or sometimes it is just that teachers have not made the link between the maths they already teach and the financial contexts and applications that can increase engagement and learning.

We have found that professional learning that builds teachers’ knowledge across three related domains – knowledge of the curriculum; knowledge of financial concepts; and knowledge of emerging financial contexts – inspires them to make finance lessons a more regular part of their work with students. Deakin University’s ‘Economics + Maths = Financial Capability’ research project includes a professional learning series for teachers.

References

Sakurai, J., Sawatzki, C., & Tout, D. (2021, October 7). Real life numeracy contexts – the spark to ignite mathematics learning. Teacher magazine https://www.teachermagazine.com/au_en/articles/real-life-numeracy-contexts-the-spark-to-ignite-mathematics-learning

This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in Teacher magazine and has been reproduced with the permission of the Australian Council for Educational Research. To read the full article and find out more about the research, and to read more articles like this, visit
www.teachermagazine.com.au.