Talking Fin Lit

Talking Financial Literacy Podcast hosted and produced by Mark Gura & Kathy King
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Preface-Prologue

Talking Financial Literacy:

A Podcast Series to Guide Rethinking Financial Education
for 21st Century Learners

As is true for so much of the instructional program our schools provide to today’s learners, Financial Literacy deserves renewed focus and attention. While aspects of it have been included in the curriculum traditionally, it is not an area that receives much reflection and discussion currently. Sometimes the NCLB major focus on literacy and math instruction has eclipsed other issues such as financial literacy.

Any serious discussion about what it is that students need to know in order to ‘do well’ as they mature in school and especially as they graduate and take responsibility for their own lives, will certainly come around to the need to understand finances and money matters.

It is this series’ purpose therefore, to steer and elevate that conversation.

 

Much has been appeared in the news of late to give this discussion gravity. Over the past few months not only has the Sub Prime Mortgage Crisis attracted a great deal of attention as its perceived negative impact is discussed endlessly by professional financial media pundits, but a major thread running throughout this story is the explanation of how the lack of comprehension of the short and long term dynamics of this market, on the part of both consumer and professional, contributed to it. Further driving this situation home is the fact that almost no one saw this situation coming or understood the signs that it was developing.

Furthermore, this story is but one tip of the iceberg of a more generalized crisis that is bearing down on us, one that is fueled in large part by a general lack of comprehension of finances. The personal credit crisis is far more extensive than even a startling single phenomenon.

Identity theft, predatory lending practices, a dearth of responsible household financial goal setting, uninformed budgeting and spending, an aging population unprepared for retirement, and on and on; the evidence of a population navigating difficult financial waters without adequate preparation abounds.

If we pay attention to what’s going on around us and reflect on it, one unavoidably comes to the conclusion that informed purchasing decisions, appropriate insurance choices, confident personal banking, and a host of other everyday financial competencies simply are beyond the ability of the average citizen to cope with. Still, we see little response to this ‘already here’ crisis on the part of schools.

A well know TV commercial has a polished, bright, middle aged man, the kind almost all of us would admire, bragging to the viewer “I have a big house, fancy new car, belong to the nicest clubs and take the best vacations – how do I do it?” Next, the punch line is delivered in a comically frantic voice “…I’m up to my eyeballs in debt, that’s how! Somebody please help me!” No doubt this advertiser paid large sums of money to run this advertisement spot on network television repeatedly because he assumed that a great many people would relate to it. And truthfully, it is a rare individual today who doesn’t at least know someone else who has run afoul of the raft of financial pitfalls out there and suffered because of them. If fact, the debt consolidation scheme behind this very commercial may well be another of them. But then again, while many may be taken in by its promise, only a financially literate individual will understand what’s being offered and why in the end it will likely only lead to more problems.

Certainly there are numerous reasons why so many of our fellow citizens are in the dark and at peril as they run the unavoidable financial gauntlet that one encounters constantly these days. While the issues, concepts, and skills that we all must use to cope with our financial lives these days have gotten much more complex over the past few decades the educational program we set before students has not kept pace. We must address this situation, and soon!

What are the skills and concepts that should be the minimum for a student to learn? What sorts of practices and pedagogy will prove best to teach them? Where within the pre k – 12 continuum (and beyond) will teachers and students find appropriate entry points for this curriculum to be learned? This series will ask these questions, seek appropriate answers, and probe for unexpected insights as we talk financial literacy.

Contact us with your ideas and needs,

Mark and Kathy

Your Talking Fin Lit Cohosts: podcast@talkingfinlit.org

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