Pierre Roy is a twelfth-grade teacher at Mathieu-Martin high school in Dieppe, New Brunswick, who has incorporated The City into his mathematics course. He believes that it should be incorporated into all Grade 12 curricula: it teaches essential knowledge and skills, such as the different types of financial institutions, how credit works, the risks associated with credit use and how to create a budget. “The links with the school curricula are already made, so it is very easy for a teacher to take the resources and incorporate them into their lessons,” Pierre says.
The City also allows the teacher to track the progress of each student and see where they might be struggling and what modules they have completed. The website is very appealing and students are excited to use it. “What I liked best was probably the characters,” explains Samuel, one of Pierre's students. “You can live the life of a character, like in a fictional world. I thought it was pretty funky, so to speak. I find that capturing your attention like that helps you learn.”
Pierre's students enjoy using The City because they have learned how to make budgets and what using credit cards can mean. Some of the students draw on their own experiences, while others prefer to identify with the characters in the Web resource.
When The City project was presented to me, I jumped on board right away because I had long wanted to see personal finances incorporated into an educational program of some sort.
The City is certainly a complete resource. It touches on all aspects of personal finance, and the activities are ready to go; various activities are suggested. Links are made to programs of study, so it is easy for teachers to take this resource and incorporate it into their classes.
When we talk about finances, young people are interested. They ask many questions. They know that it is something they hear their parents talk about, but they do not necessarily understand the full extent of it. So when income taxes are mentioned and the fact that as much as 40 percent of someone's salary can be deducted, you know, they have a lot of questions: Where does this money go? Why is it deducted? And so on.
When I presented The City to them, they were happy to see that it would have a great significance for them, that it would be useful to them throughout their lives and that they could benefit from it. So the reaction was positive.
Student: Well, I was very happy about that. I found that it was a good way of teaching. Most important, I found that it helped them learn. I think it is really great. It is “our generation;” we all have computers.
The website is very dynamic and interactive. You know, it has a “cool” look. It also helps teachers create a place for their class. Teachers can really follow their students' progress, see at which stage each student is in the different activities and modules. And I think that this is really an asset of the resource. The way the resource is structured, using stories with fictional characters who would still be very believable in our society, adds a lot of substance. The students appreciated using this resource very much.
Student: What I liked best was probably the characters. You can live the life of a character, like in a fictional world. I thought it was pretty “funky,” so to speak. I find that capturing your attention like that helps you learn. The more your attention is focussed on the character, the more you get to know your character, likely as not, the more you will enjoy it and the more you will learn. You will remember it.
I teach 11th and 12th-grade students, so they are getting ready for post-secondary education, moving into their first apartment or simply buying a car. So they are developing basic skills. They know that these are things they will use every day in their own budgets and when they have to distinguish between what they want and what they need. Becoming aware that they have to think about things like that: understand the various types of financial institutions and how credit works. It is really a golden opportunity for them to reflect on all that.
Student: By using The City, I realized that I was wasting money on things, such as “yes, it is fun to have this CD or to eat there, but maybe I could have saved my money.” It is especially the little things that you learn about, but that help you save a lot. It will mostly help me to identify my expenses—how do you call it? My needs and wants. It is something that I am sure will be valuable in the future. I learned something good.
As a teacher, it is satisfying to see that you were able to influence students throughout their lives and that they will probably be in a better financial situation. Clearly, it can help them fulfill their dreams and have a satisfying life.