Teachers College Offers Online Financial Education Course


(Photo: Wilfred Iven, Creative Commons)

Teachers College, Columbia University has announced the creation of a 14-week online professional development course in financial literacy that will be available to teachers across the nation at no cost.

"This new online course will enable us to reach more teachers who can, in turn, bring financial literacy to more students across the country," said Anand Marri, Associate Professor of Social Studies & Education at Teachers College, and the program's chief engineer.

"The Cowin Financial Literacy Program is built on the principle that people learn best by doing, as first espoused by John Dewey a century ago at Teachers College," said Marri. "It also reflects TC's belief that the best way to approach any educational or social problem is to teach the teachers."

Set to be taught by Marri and a doctoral student, the course will make use of case studies from the program in order to teach basic financial concepts such as budgeting, planning, risk, credit, consumption, savings, investments, and diversification.

Offering participants 30 hours of professional development credit, the course will be given twice each year starting in January 2017. The first two rounds of the course will be offered to teachers for free through support from the program's benefactor and founder, Joyce Cowin. The course will also be an addition to the annual Summer Institute at Teachers College offered through the program, which provides professional development to over 200 teachers across the country for the last three years.

The announcement came at an event meant to highlight the Cowin Financial Literacy Program. Former New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck and his wife, Lauran Tuck, gave the keynote speech. The couple had previously founded T.U.C.K.'s R.U.S.H. for Literacy in an effort to aid in the closure of the opportunity gap for low-income and minority children.

Later on in the evening, a panel of experts chosen by the Cowin Financial Literacy Program discussed the serious need for financial literacy. The group noted that the most effective approach to doing this involved a multi-pronged approach that brought together teachers, students, and their families.

Panelists included Marri; Dan Kadlec, contributor, TIME and Money magazines; moderator Beth Kobliner, author of The New York Times bestseller "Get a Financial Life"; Carol Loomis, retired Fortune Senior Editor-at-Large; and Stacey Tisdale, Senior Editor – Personal Finance, Black Enterprise.

Teachers College President Susan Fuhrman called the Cowin program "one of the most innovative and effective financial literacy programs ever. There's just none like this."

"We're celebrating the phenomenal growth and impact of a unique financial literacy program that began as a pilot in New York City in 2012. And since its national roll-out last summer, the Cowin program has expanded from 11 states to—at last count—46 states plus the District of Columbia," she added.

The Cowin Financial Literacy Program focuses on students by helping high school teachers to better understand financial principles, who can then pass them along to their students. In all, nine case studies are looked at in the program, with each posing a financial problem or question that could be faced by a typical family. The cases, which can be downloaded for free, allow students to find a solution by taking a closer look at various points of view.

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