It is commonly mentioned in youth policy literature that financial dependence of young people on their parents is increasing and that this is likely to have an adverse effect on the well-being of young people and their families. From my experience in Street Finance, it seems that there is a direct inverse relationship between the level of financial dependency of young people and their knowledge of financial literacy.
When creating my lessons, I had planned to open with a discussion about part-time employment as a source of income, hoping this would resonate well with the students. It was surprising to see, when asked “who here has a part time job?” only one student said “yes”. Additionally, when discussing the various sources of income, many of the students emphasised that their parents regularly gave them cash for their daily expenses.
It was these experiences which made me realise students are becoming more and more financially dependent on their family, and this is significantly contributing to the relatively low levels of financial literacy in today’s youth. Studies in Cobb-Clark D (2008) found that young adults are prolonging the length of financial dependence on their parents and continue to live at home long after finishing high school. Findings also suggest this lack of independence stems from an increasing difficulty in gaining employment and potentially an increased desire to participate in school and university, where time for full-time work is limited (Schneider, 1999).
Furthermore, Ali et. al found that the level of financial dependence can be directly related to the socio-economic circumstances of the family. Young people from more affluent areas are more financially dependent than those from low socio-economic families, despite being “less likely to have a part time job”. In my lessons it was staggering to see how many students not only were provided everything from their parents but were unaware of how their parents spent their own income. I believe it is particularly important in the developing years of an individual, to understand the essentials of earning, budgeting and taking on debt for essentials such as mortgages.
Lusardi & Tufano (2015) suggests that people frequently fail to understand the terms and conditions of consumer loans and mortgages. This situation seems to result in a lack of understanding of money and willingness to work or be ambitions with money. Most students in my class had a short-term vision of financial well-being. While they felt secure with their own pocket money, and had sufficient income to make purchase choices, most students lacked long-term vision of their finances. As defined in the four elements of financial well-being, it is important that young adults “have the capacity to absorb a financial shock in the future and have the financial freedom to make choices that allow you to enjoy life”. To emphasise this point to my class I tried to use many examples of long-term goals, that while won’t be possible to achieve at the present, will require an understanding of finance now to help them achieve those in the future.
In my teaching experience one of the difficulties I faced was understanding how to contextualise the concepts to the students in a way that would be relevant and useful to their own financial situation and needs. As Ali et al. (2014) explains, it is critical to understand the social contexts and influencing factors that impact on financial decision making. To cater for this and ensure I was benefiting each student I began each lesson with a “teacher-led” approach, explaining concepts and providing thorough examples that were relevant to the students’ situations and age. Asking questions about their own understanding and relating it to the topic also promoted discussion and helped elevate some of the fear in students who were anxious to speak about their personal experience.
Another difficulty I faced in my teaching experience was the allocation of groups in the class. As the teacher explained, the maths class I was teaching was new to the students, and this was the first time they had been split up from their homeroom groups to be with other students. It was clear that they did not know each other well, and this made it particularly difficult to encourage activities in groups that are allocated “randomly”. Some students were hesitant to leave their friend to another group, so Jess and I decided to allocate the groups using the current seating arrangements. If I was to teach the class again, I would try to create a greater emphasis on mixing up students into different groups, perhaps playing a “get to know each other game” to help alleviate some of the social fears. It is important that students can work with different people as this is more likely to encourage the learning of new skills and ideas.
When I first observed my class, I was originally worried about the level of participation and concentration from the students. Only one individual had completed the previous night’s homework, and most refused to do the tasks set for them that day. However, as I began my first lesson the classroom scene completely changed into a positive one. As Carsten explained in class earlier in the semester, the students are usually more excited to listen and be involved given there is a change in their teacher and topic of learning. The content I created resonated well with the students. They found the topics very interesting and relatable to their own experiences. To appeal more to the students’ interests and help expand their learning, Jess and I slightly adapted our lesson plans along the way, adding in a “sticky note” section which allowed the students to anonymously ask questions relating to anything financial related. In the essence of time, as a group Jess and I would go through the questions that had come up from multiple students, allowing the whole class to join in and be involved. These “sticky notes” also served as a great way to evaluate student participation and learning, when we asked them to note something new which they had learnt.
The most satisfying aspect of Street Finance was seeing the students become excited and willing to learn. I saw individual students, who I had observed had low levels of participation in the first lesson, commit themselves more to the activities and ask intelligent questions. A vivid example that I clearly remember, was in my second lesson of teaching. After I answered a question to the student, he thanked me and said, “I actually learnt something today”. It was clear from this experience, and from many others, that the level of intelligence was never an issue in this class. The students could clearly understand topics in depth and give examples relevant to their own life.
The majority of the lessons ran as planned. The students quickly grasped concepts and were able to complete the activities within the set time period. Having Jess and I teach as a pair, definitely benefited the students as we were able to provide more tailored and individualised support through the teachings and activities. In the last activity of the third lesson, we broke the class up and discussed the answers in two groups, with Jess and I leading discussion. Having the smaller groups, created a more relaxed environment and students felt much more comfortable sharing their ideas, answers and personal experiences on the topic of “returning goods”. A suggestion I adopted from the university class and the Glasson (2019) reading, was to create more open questions in the discussion such as “please elaborate on your response” to probe students thinking, requiring them to “engage in higher-order thinking skills”. Students were also encouraged to put their financial knowledge to use (“The goal of financial education”, 2015) as they linked the teachings to the case and expanded upon their peers’ ideas.
When creating my lesson plans it was important that I used a mix of teacher-led and student-led approaches. As explained in the pedagogy classes and Groundwater-smith (2006), many students learn in different ways, and the teacher needs to respond to this if “they are to continue to be interested in learning and involved in the process”. I understand that traditionally, schooling has tended to overvalue a fairly passive, sit-and-listen response from learners. By reducing the amount of teacher-led approach at the beginning of clash, I created more emphasis on silent reading, group discussion and writing tasks, supporting those students who learn best by themselves and those who enjoy being activity involved.
Furthermore, when creating my lesson plans, I tried to use a wide variety of resources and ideas. The university class split between Finance and pedagogy was particularly useful in helping me design the best and most appropriate lesson. In the pedagogy section of the class, I enjoyed having to actually complete the activities. Despite the content being established for year 10 students, having to do the tasks ourselves in groups/pairs helped me understand the thought process students would go through when undertaking the activity. The 3-2-1 reflection at the end of each was very valuable for my planning. I was able to take ideas from the activities and better adapt it to suit my own plan. Practicing my activity at university before going out to the class was also very beneficial and allowed me to better tailor my lesson to the expectations and interests of students.
Another useful topic in the university classes was the evaluation of different classroom structures. At the high school the classroom location and arrangement changed every week. I was not told the setting until 5 minutes before the lesson, as certain school issues had influenced the move. It was important that I adapted my lessons to suit the classroom set-ups. For example, in the first lesson the group activities which I had originally planned, were unable to be completed as students could not move from their current seat due to the lack of space. In this instance, I altered my activity to be done in pairs of students sitting next to each other. It was lucky that I had printed off extra handout sheets, to anticipate such an issue occurring.
Street Finance has been an amazing learning experience. There were some small concepts taught in the university classes which have improved my own financial literacy and understanding of financial decision making. As an example, I do not currently own a credit card, and thus I did not know all the rules and regulations governing the rates and fees. I now pose a much better understanding of the risks involved and feel confident in being able to use the payment method in a safe manner.
Moreover, the Street Finance experience has helped developed both my communication and technical skills which will definitely be useful throughout my career. In teaching the content, it was particularly important to understand the theories in detail and how these can be applied in a real-world environment, as many of the students needed to be stepped through the process clearly. Throughout my career I hope to take on leadership roles within the finance area and to succeed in this it will be essential that I am able to communicate effectively on ideas and strategies by inhibiting a strong understanding of the financial data and using examples. Furthermore, I found working in a pair with Jess very beneficial for my development. We both learned to work particularly well in a team, combing our lesson plans and organising the delivery of content to be engaging for all students.
During year 10 at my own high school I never had an opportunity to learn basic financial skills in the classroom. It wasn’t until year 12 that I learned basic financial concepts through some of the subjects which I had elected to take. Many of the students at Epping Secondary College had no interest in doing business related subjects in VCE. This unfortunately means that these students will miss out on learning certain skills and may find it much more difficult to manage their money when they do finally start earning their own income.
Street Finance is a fantastic opportunity for school students and is an important step in helping to improve the financial literary of today’s youth. Undoubtedly, there needs to be a greater emphasis on financial literacy content at the year 9 or 10 level. It could be possible to embed this type of subject as a compulsory component of the current curriculum. Many of the compulsory subjects taught before year 11 and 12 are humanities, science and maths. While these subjects are significantly important for learning and development, they may not be particularly relevant for students if they do not have any intention on undertaking further tertiary study in that area. Finance and money, on the other hand, affects everyone who earns an income regardless of the career they choose. Having an understanding of these concepts will support young adults by creating better decision making around the use of money, income and transactions relating to the purchases of goods and services.
- Ali, P., McRae, C. H., & Ramsay, I. (2014). Financial Literacy and Financial Decision-Making of Australian Secondary School Students.
- Schneider, J. (1999). The increasing financial dependency of young people on their parents. Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales.
- Cobb‐Clark, D. A. (2008). Leaving home: What economics has to say about the living arrangements of young Australians. Australian Economic Review, 41(2), 160-176.
- Bureau, C. F. P. (2015). Financial well-being: The goal of financial education. Iowa City, IA.
- Groundwater-Smith, S. (2006). Understanding learner diversity. Teaching: challenges and dilemmas, 51-74.
- Lusardi, A., & Tufano, P. (2015). Debt literacy, financial experiences, and overindebtedness. Journal of Pension Economics & Finance, 14(4), 332-368.
- Glasson, T. (2009). ‘Strategic Questioning’ in Improving student achievement: A practical guide to assessment for learning. Curriculum Press.