Educators Reveal Keys to Gaining Confidence to Teach Personal Finance

If you were asked to teach a financial education course, what would give you confidence in your capability to teach personal finance concepts effectively? That’s the question we posed to a group of financial experts and educators in a recent forum. Their answers revealed that high-quality training – whether obtained through formal education, peer-to-peer modeling, or the “school of hard knocks” – is the key to gaining that confidence.

Matthew B. Courtney is founder and Executive Director of the Bluegrass Center for Teacher Quality, a Kentucky-based nonprofit dedicated to promoting teacher-led professional learning initiatives. “Financial literacy has been an important point of discussion in Kentucky for the past couple of years,” comments Courtney. “It is a vital component of making sure that our children graduate college career-ready.” Courtney went on to express the opinion that very few teachers currently in the field actually have the training they need to implement financial literacy lessons effectively. “The key to success is quality training,” he said. “Teachers training their peers yields the best results. In order to make financial literacy a successful reality, we must identify teachers who are already doing this work well and place them in leadership roles that allow them to train their peers in quality financial literacy education.”

“Aside from any formal training, I believe an educator/trainer on financial literacy is more effective when they themselves have experienced some sort of financial stress,” added Javier Diaz, Financial Coach at the United Way Center for Financial Stability in Miami, Florida. “Educators must be able to move on past just the theoretical.” While Diaz thinks baseline lessons or rules of thumb can be a great place to start, every individual’s history and case will be unique. “With your own personal experiences you’ll be more likely able to relate to your students, and help them think outside of the box,” he concludes.

Prior to becoming a high school math, science, English, and computer teacher, Patrick DeVuono of Blue Eros Publishing was a mortgage broker. It was his experience working with dozens of loan applications and tax returns that gave DeVuono the confidence to teach personal finance. What he learned about the value of maintaining a good credit rating helped too. “No matter how deeply in debt I ever was, I always kept my credit record clean. Now loan officers actively seek my business because of my good credit score,” says DeVuono, who was mentored by Robert Kiyosaki and Dolf de Roos and also studied Suse Orman. Of all the classes he’s taught over the years, DeVuono claims Financial Planning and Life Skills are the courses his students have remembered best and valued most highly.


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