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July 18, 2017 Reading Time: 2 minutes

A recent article published by The Wall Street Journal describes a summer camp for children ages 7 to 11 in Denver, CO, organized by Young Americans Center for Financial Education that focuses on teaching economics, including financial markets and theories of international trade. The article shows that camp organizers as well as parents and the children themselves see the importance of learning about economics and personal finance early in life.

While reading the article, I could not stop thinking about how AIER’s own Teach-the-Teachers Initiative fills the gap of economic illiteracy among slightly older students through educating their teachers and supporting them in the classroom.

To date, AIER has trained 173 teachers in topics of importance in economics, such as money and inflation, business cycles and unemployment, and property rights. The majority of participants in our workshops are high school teachers, but this year, we had several middle school teachers and community-college professors. This expansion shows demand for our services not only across the curriculum but at all grade levels and beyond. We call it the K–14 spectrum.

As the WSJ article described various activities children in Denver are engaged in to better comprehend the workings of financial markets and international trade, I vividly remembered the lesson idea a sixth-grade teacher developed at our workshop in Omaha, NE. Cori Bowley, who teaches in Gretna Middle School in Omaha, decided to infuse the concept of inflation in all her classes. She presented her ideas for incorporating inflation into English language arts, geography, civics, and math subject areas.

In the fall, Cori Bowley will engage her students by having them participate in an exercise known as an inflation auction, map income per capita in her county and state, and calculate and discuss the Consumer Price Index and AIER’s Everyday Price Index. She will use the diverse resources and pedagogical techniques we shared at the workshop. Our participants move around, draw pictures, role-play, and have fun with economics. These techniques are certainly appropriate for sixth graders and will help them remember economic concepts for years to come.

As an educator at heart, I am excited about our program’s reach into the broader market of teachers and very proud that our Teach-the-Teachers program is at the vanguard in the current national movement to deliver economic knowledge to children not only across the curriculum, but also across education levels.

 

Picture: TTI participants in Omaha working on the vocabulary project.

 

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Natalia Smirnova, PhD

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