Tuesday, June 07, 2016
If I Could Design One Course…
- Payday lenders
- Check cashing stores
- Subprime loans
- Interest-only loans
Its other plus is that it leaves open the opportunity to hit what I think is needed, and that is the "how college works" skill. My other learning outcome would be that they register early for their second semester classes and know how to drop-add if they change their minds or one of them doesn't work out. Registering late is a terrible problem at my college, and it doesn't seem to be about money -- although it could be that financial insecurity breeds other insecurities.
My only real objection to it is that it should be taught in 9th or 10th grade, but maybe you need to be 18+ and in college and more on your own for it to sink in.
Has anyone else thought about this? I'm not promising anything but if anyone else was interested in collaborating (even if it's just a 'bounce ideas off each other' sort of thing) I'd love to meet you.
The topics you mention are indeed things everyone should understand. Perhaps a hardware approach using one of the little computer boards (such as the Raspberry Pi) is a better way in.
I do like the idea of a financial life skills course.
I can think of a couple of additional things that could be covered in such a course.
One might be a unit on how the medical system works, how medical insurance works, as well as on how Medicare and Medicaid work. Perhaps also something on how the Affordable Care Act works.
Another possible unit might be something on how to arrange for a comfortable retirement. Yes, the student is now a youngster, but they will eventually retire and will have to figure out a way that they will be able to continue living indoors after retirement. A unit on how Social Security works would be quite useful, as well as a unit on the differences between defined-benefit and defined-contribution pension plans.
Also a unit on how the stock market works. Things like financial derivatives. options, forwards, and credit default swaps might be useful items for consideration.
I would like to take such a course myself!
Personally, I would have found such a basics of financial literacy course boring and insulting, like the health ed courses of high school. Also the probability of them turning into "capitalism is great, worship Wall Street!" or "capitalism is awful, worship Marxism!" classes is much too high.
"The median income household income in Springfield is X, and in Agawam is Y." What's a median? How is it different from a mean? When/how would one be better than the other?
"Eating food X doubles your risk of (extremely rare disease)." How are some other ways to express that?
Something that talks about margin of error. Talk about the various kinds of errors--standard deviation due to sample size, versus biased samples, biased estimates, Type 1 vs Type 2, etc.
The focus would not be on calculating any statisticl measure, but on understanding what it tells you. This is a key skill for reading in many fields.
I vote for this one too.
I can recommend an excellent book for that course: "Statistics Done Wrong" by Alex Reinhart.
(And, at $12, much cheaper than most textbooks ;) )