The recent financial crisis in our country has made many of us acutely aware of the importance of economic and financial literacy education for our youth. Even though consumer ignorance is not the only cause of the current crisis, it certainly played a major role. Every young person (and adult) should be learning some basic rules of thumb – don’t buy houses bigger than you can afford; don’t fall for variable-rate mortgages; don’t invest in things you don’t understand; do pay off your credit card.
Our young people need to be given the tools of financial literacy at a very young age. Children as young as kindergarten age can begin to learn the basic tenet of economics: Wants exceed resources, and thus we must make choices! We should be teaching our children how to make wise choices-a skill that will benefit them throughout their lives.
The Illinois Council on Economic Education believes in “unlocking the power of choice.” Economic understanding is empowering, and unlocking that power for our young people will give them a chance for a better life.
We have an extremely “teachable moment” in our country. We owe it to our children to see that economics and financial literacy education are a part of their schooling from kindergarten through high school. The council (www.econed-il.org) has the best approach I’ve seen to providing this education – and parents and schools can access most of their services free of charge. Why are we waiting?
Professor and director of Dominican
University’s Center for Economic Education