29 March 2017
Short articles

Resources: Indigenous financial literacy

Educators working across the school age range can now access a new teaching resource to help them develop the financial literacy skills of Indigenous students.

Knowing, Growing, Showing takes students through three stages of learning – knowing the basics of money, developing a growing understanding of money and making smart choices, and applying their learning to show their understanding of money and enterprise.

Each learning stage has four units and free lesson planning resources, including learning outcomes, suggested activities, information on community and cultural considerations, scene setting scenarios providing real life context, focus questions, assessment tasks and rubrics, teachers’ notes, curriculum links and links to additional resources.

Knowing, Growing, Showing – launched by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) earlier this month – has been developed by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) Indigenous Education team, following consultation with Indigenous educators and state and territory education departments.

Tony Dreise, a former Principal Research Fellow and Hub Leader for Indigenous Education at ACER, says the resources embeds financial literacy within community and cultural contexts. ‘[It was] developed in recognition of the fact that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and children, like all children and young people, need to increasingly become financially literate.

‘Financial literacy is very much a 21st Century skill and capability and all children and young people need to understand the basics of money, the traps of money, how money operates in community contexts and not necessarily to generate wealth, per se, but to generate wellbeing in communities.’

The resources for the three learning stages – Knowing, Growing and Showing – are aligned with the Australian Curriculum the National Consumer and Financial Literacy Framework and ASIC’s MoneySmart program.

ACER has also released a framework document underpinning the suite of teaching and learning materials (Dreise & Meston, 2017a). It explains that the suggested learning activities adopt a growth mindset approach – encouraging continuous improvement – rather than simple pass or fail, and they’re not tied to a particular year level.

‘The lesson guides provide targeted educational interventions, from foundation right through the key phases of adolescence, in preparing youth transitions into the real world and financial complexity of adulthood. … Knowing Growing Showing deliberately allows for teacher discretion to teach in a way that is learner-centred and group-centred rather than year level centric.

‘This approach is about moving from surface learning (imparting of content) to deep learning (the acquisition of behavioural change). In practical terms it means students moving from a stage of recognising money, calculating money, applying the utility of money (for example, smart shopping), understanding the evolving nature of money, through to the generation and giving of money through entrepreneurial and philanthropic behaviours.’

Students will also explore the relationship between money and personal, family and community wellbeing, and learn about the Basics Card in the Northern Territory and how it compares with other forms of money such as debit and credit cards.

Researchers say Knowing, Growing, Showing has been specifically tailored to incorporate Indigenous histories, cultures and values. The teaching of culture is highlighted as being particularly important and the suite of resources feature opportunities to consider trade and commerce in traditional Indigenous societies, including through the bartering and exchange of goods, tools and arts.

When planning lessons, teachers are reminded to be mindful of different values and customs of Indigenous societies in relation to money. ‘… Indigenous cultures tend to be “collectivist” in their orientation as opposed to "individualistic". Sharing among families, clans and kin forms a large part of Indigenous culture. Therefore, financial literacy lessons that centre upon personal wealth accumulation (such as superannuation, investment portfolios or tax avoidance) are unlikely to resonate as much as lessons about families and communities becoming happier and healthier through financial wellbeing. Think collective health, not individual wealth.’

Suggested learning activities include: taking students on a field trip to the local shop or bank to see real money and consumer practice in action; using the $50 as a stimulus, exploring the life of Indigenous entrepreneur and inventor David Unaipon; setting up a classroom economy such as a shop, showcasing learning through planning and creating a market or small enterprise; and planning, budgeting and managing an event, such as the school fete or an Elders lunch.

Teachers are encouraged to use the materials across different curriculum areas, not just maths. The framework points out that financial literacy also involves the development of ‘higher order skills in saving, spending, growing and giving money … [and engaging] in learning activities that examine the ethical, social, economic and cultural dimensions of money.’ The researchers say building student confidence is particularly important, so teachers should think about how they can build on existing strengths – whether it’s sport, music, drama or community-related.

References and related reading

Dreise, T., & Meston, T. (2017a) Knowing Growing Showing Indigenous consumer and financial literacy: Research to practice. http://research.acer.edu.au/indigenous_education/47

Dreise, T., & Meston, T. (2017b) Knowing Growing Showing literature review. http://research.acer.edu.au/indigenous_education/46


How are you meeting the Australian Curriculum cross-curriculum priority of developing knowledge, understanding and skills relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures?

When planning lessons, are you mindful of different values and customs of Indigenous societies?

What opportunities are there to develop your students’ financial literacy skills in different subject areas, other than numeracy and mathematics?

Jo Earp

Jo Earp is the editor of Teacher.


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