standard oil stock certificate

Promoting Financial Literacy

Finance is the economic system that includes the circulation of money, the granting of credit, the making of investments, and the provision of banking facilities. It can seem horribly complicated, especially when the references and concepts are unfamiliar, and the setting is alien. But ignoring it won’t make it go away – as the tutorial “Global Financial Crisis” (in both WorldView Software’s U.S. Government and Economics) makes clear! After completing the tutorial, assess your student’s knowledge of basic personal finance concepts (one such quiz from which you can draw questions is located at the newspaper The Christian Science Monitor). Then acquaint your students with this arena by involving them in it.

Even if you can’t take your class to New York City, you can explore the world of banking and commerce through the Museum of American Finance. The museum is independent (although affiliated with the Smithsonian) and it collects and exhibits financial documents, objects, and photographs. For example, one of the financial documents in its collection is this certificate for 250 shares of stock from Standard Oil, featured above.

There are videos and audios from past programs at the museum, such as an event with former chairman of the Federal Reserve Paul Volcker. The museum’s current and former exhibits are documented online, and most have downloadable .pdfs.  The museum also provides educational materials such as curriculum guides, which include glossaries of terms used in trading, as well as case studies and classroom activities.

The average American is distressingly financially illiterate and innumerate, which as the tutorial makes clear, has real and devastating consequences for the health of both the country’s economy and democracy – and can have global repercussions. Familiarize your students with the basics of how the financial system works: the basic principles and products, the actors and their motivations, and the language.   It may be the most important lesson you teach.

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Dr. Annelies Kamran is V.P. for Content and Product Development at WorldView Software, Inc.

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