Ontario is integrating financial literacy into the curriculum as part of a new pilot program in select grade 10 classrooms from April to June 2017.
The feedback from the pilot will inform the next steps for integrating financial literacy into the mandatory career studies course for the 2018 curriculum.
We spoke to two London high school students on their knowledge of financial literacy and their thoughts on it being integrated into the curriculum.
Christopher Dodman, grade 11, said including financial literacy in his careers studies class would be helpful.
“It definitely would help more with actual real-life application. Learning financial literacy would be best for anything you do, even if you just go out to the workforce even after high school,” said Dodman.
His mother Kelley Heigh reacted positively to the new announcement.
“I think that that’s a fabulous idea. I think that there’s way too many adults that don’t have that wrapped up yet.”
Heigh says finances have changed since she was in high school. “It’s way easier to get in debt now than it was when I was younger.”
In the new curriculum, students will be expected to consider aspects of financial decision-making.
Students may be asked the question to investigate “What is your potential post-secondary destination and how much do you think it would cost to realize this opportunity?”
- Students may then, select a destination (e.g., college for graphic design),
- Select a college (e.g., Humber, Lambton),
- Research the costs of going to that college, (e.g., transportation, housing, tuition etc.),
- Look at how they would get money to accomplish this (e.g., part time job, savings, OSAP),
- Make a decision and budget to realize the opportunity.
This example was provided by the Ministry of Education.
While no schools in London, Ont. were chosen to be part of the pilot program, the closest participating schools are École secondaire catholique Notre-Dame in Woodstock, Ont. and Paris District High School.
Laura Dukeshire, who teaches civics and careers studies at Paris District High School, was selected to be part of the pilot program. She will begin teaching the new material on April 20, 2017.
“I think it’s important and I’m glad to see the interest is there,” said Dukeshire about her students’ attitude towards financial literacy.
''Students are interested in money.''
She said that while students are not paying bills, she has seen a growing interest in money management among her grade 10 and 11 students.
Some of her students are more aware of financial concerns than others, through their experiences with their family. However, other students shut down when they start talking about credit cards or interest rates in class.
“I think a little bit of education does go a long way,” said Dukeshire.
To her, the plan to integrate financial literacy into careers studies makes sense.
“If you’re exploring a career,” said Dukeshire, “Having some idea of what you could make at that career, to me, should be a part of it.”
Dodman, one of the high school students, also agreed. “I think it being mandatory, part of a mandatory course, is the best way to do it, because then the kids will learn about it even if they don’t think they need to.”
As a math teacher, Dukeshire has been integrating financial literacy into her class for years. She acknowledged that some teachers in the past may have been uncomfortable teaching finance-related material to the class.
“Unless they have some training or some materials to work with, not everyone who gets assigned the careers studies program has that background.”
She said she’s excited that the careers studies program is being further developed after teaching it for many years.
“What I see possibly being different, after this pilot has happened, is that there are simply going to be more resources and more ways that you can integrate [financial literacy] into your program, and it will be supported,” said Dukeshire.
Arash Randjbar is a graduate student at Western University. He’s a digital storyteller, YouTuber and Yogi. You can find him at www.youtube.com
Stephanie Gordon is a journalism student who is unofficially on the agricultural beat of Southwestern Ontario. In her free time she enjoys teaching children how to cook.
Flora Pan is a journalism and communication student at Western University. Her hobbies include indulging in Korean television and YouTube videos.