A lion’s share of the best and the brightest minds devote their energy into designing programs to capture students’ attention in order to improve their performances. The value of teaching facts and history, concepts and theory is understood; the challenge is weaving those elements into a format that imprints on the students, encourages retention, and gets results. A critical part of this challenge is dealing with absenteeism.
How can we inspire students to come to class and pay attention? How can we help them recognize that what they learn today will help them tomorrow?
Whether as a child or as an adult, the answer is often “money.” That topic captures everyone’s attention. So…why not use money as a teaching tool to inspire and motivate students? Programs exist that dangle large sums to encourage performances, but there can be another approach. We all recently experienced the downturn in the economy that magnified our general lack of financial fundamentals. How about investing in the next generation’s education on the subject. Let’s use “money talk” that teaches ways to invest, concepts to consider when opening a business, and ways to expand in the business world. Let’s introduce interest rates, stocks and bonds, and credit card issues. And while students inhale and absorb this practical knowledge, lessons can reinforce the fundamentals of mathematics, reading, critical reasoning, and social studies. This approach can imprint life-lessons on setting and achieving short and long term goals and connecting classroom subjects with “the real world.”
This happens in Stocks in the Future. Through a three-year in-school enrichment program, under-performing middle school students explore the investment world from savings at the local bank to opening a business to placing investments in the stock market. While learning, students can earn up to $80 a year by attending school regularly and improving their grades. They then invest their earnings in the publicly traded companies they study. Academic fundamentals are reinforced while learning “money talk.” Upon graduating from high school, the actual shares students earn are placed in their names. Their investment in school pays off.
And this captivating approach produces results: improved attendance! Research supports this approach. Stocks in the Future students came to school 10 days more each year than their peers; and sixth and seventh graders scored appreciably higher on modified achievement tests. A Hopkins research analyst wrote “the program is having a significant impact on reducing student absenteeism.”
And for most of these youngsters, there is no other resource to pass along this invaluable life skill. It is learning through money that these students learn to invest in school and in themselves.