For the past month, my grade sevens and I have been taking a deep dive into the new math curriculum, specifically, financial literacy. Topics we have covered have included the following:
- Exchange Rates: how they come into play when travelling outside of Canada, how to convert to and from foreign currencies and how exchange rates fluctuate over time
- How to plan and reach financial goals: so many students in my class have large goals for their futures such as university, buying a car, etc. which we discussed as our unit progressed
- Financial Institutions: we talked about what institutions exist in Hamilton, how customer friendly their websites are as well as if students in our class have started savings accounts, etc. for post high school education plans
- Budgeting: how to make a budget for immediate, short term and long term goals. We also discussed incomes vs. expenses and how you would save for school or another larger purchases
- Interest Rates: we just finished today discussing how an interest rate could affect investing money as well as borrowing money over time
Over the past month, I have not heard one student ask the question that every teacher fears, “Why do we have to learn this? How will this help me in my future? These questions often come from inquiring minds of students who are frustrated with the math topic at hand and cannot seem to find the relevance. Not only have these topics been engaging for my students but this has been my favourite math unit to teach since I started teaching seven years ago. I wish I had been fortunate enough at a young age to learn about these topics so my parents did not have to walk me through them when I was 20.
I do wonder during some conversations if my students are too young to learn about specific topics, but maybe one day, they will look back on these math conversations and see the connection. Even though interest rates, etc. may not affect them today, it will still be more clear to them in the future when the topic is brought up.
Interesting (and challenging) discussions did come up with my students, related to interest rates being haram in their religion. I discussed it with my admin. and those students were still able to learn about why interest rates could affect them if they need to borrow money for school, etc. It was interesting to hear that due to their faith, earning interest or being charged interest was haram. I recognize and hear what my students shared and continued to talk about how borrowing money in the future may involve interest rates in their future.
The other day while teaching remotely (at school) about interest rates, a teacher was nearby and heard our discussions. She was very interested in our discussions as a class and mentioned that she wished she had been taught these concepts back when she was in elementary. She mentioned how she learned a lot from our discussions and I felt great about that. I shared it with my class that these discussions will really help plan for their future and when they may not see the importance about learning how to find an acute angle, they hopefully will remember these financial literacy conversations one day.
I look forward to exploring other new curriculum topics in the future such as coding. It is a great day to be a grade seven math teacher when your students, parents and other staff around you realize the importance of these discussions! Now, to get there with other concepts taught this year 🙂