This past week was part one of my financial literacy unit. I’ve spent the better part of the last month putting it together, and I’ve ridiculously excited to teach my students real-world skills in the context of informational text and research skills, especially as we’d spent the last three weeks combing through The Scarlet Letter.
Monday was our introduction, where we learned things like “88% of wealthy people read 30 minutes or more per day for education or career reasons, compared to 2% of poor people.” (Tom Corley)
Tuesday we introduced the concept of saving and compound interest, with reference to famous economics charts about the importance of starting to invest early.
Wednesday we researched different checking accounts at various banks and learned about concepts like minimum balance, overdraft fees, and monthly maintenance fees. They also read the introduction to Sean Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens. At least, most of them did.
Yesterday we focused on balancing a checkbook and budgeting – and why, although they are tedious, they are so, so important.
Today, they read excerpts from a chapter on Debt Myths from Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and learned about the basic pros and cons of credit cards.
At least, one of them read the assigned chapter.
In first period, their bell work was to pick one myth they read that they found surprising. It should have taken all of five minutes.
Fifteen minutes into class, when everyone is still picking through the article, I ask them point blank who actually did the reading I assigned ON MONDAY and gave to them ON WEDNESDAY and has been on my website for two weeks.
One girl raised her hand. And she wasn’t even in class yesterday to get reminded.
I then asked for their reasons. “I got home late.” “I didn’t know we had a reading.” And lots of ashamed faces who didn’t make eye contact. At least they had the decency to look ashamed.
I don’t get it. They just came off reading the Scarlet Letter, which for most AP students is one of the hardest, boringest texts to go through. Pop over on Twitter and do a search for #ScarletLetter and you’ll find how angsty these teens are.
And now I give them stuff that’s at a middle school reading level, if that – New York Times bestseller stuff. Entertaining, enriching stuff. And I get blank stares. How extraordinarily disappointing. Not the way I wanted to end my week.