Real-World Tasks in the Classroom: One School's Success

A recent Edutopia article highlights a school using a different approach to learning: At Ariel Community Academy, a magnet school in Chicago, students are exposed to a curriculum focused on financial literacy from a young age. From helping kindergarteners put a name to economic concepts with which they are familiar in their everyday lives to learning about taxes, business models, and investment later on in elementary school, Ariel's students are building a strong foundation for future endeavors. The program seems to be working: the school has consistently outperformed other districts in the city and state during the last few years.

As the article proclaims, the school “works by providing a realistic and familiar context that helps students see the connection between schooling and their life goals.” Often times kids struggle in school because they see the concepts they are learning as abstract but, as Ariel’s curriculum director stated, “When students feel a connectedness to the importance of education, when they see the power of education to help them get closer to their goals as individuals, that's what keeps a very high sense of learning efficacy in them.”

Teachers at the school believe that the program also instills hope for the students, many of who come from low-income families. By giving them the ability to understand and analyze financial situations, they can think critically and come up with plans to overcome challenges in their own lives. You can read more about the program here, and see how the kids apply the knowledge they acquire to a real-life investment as part of the curriculum here.