My grandpa was a teacher, my dad was a teacher, and now I am a teacher. Teaching runs in my blood.
When I was very young, my dad talked about a math class he was assigned to teach during the upcoming year. In those days it was called “Senior Math,” or sometimes “Bonehead Math.” He sounded a bit apprehensive, my dad wasn’t a math teacher, he taught Industrial Arts; you remember when they had wood shop, metal shop, and auto shop? That was my dad. He had gotten stuck with a class that no one else wanted. Yet, he was determined that this class would not be just another “Bonehead” class.
Later, I asked how his class was going, and this is what he told me:
“I don’t want to teach just another math class. I want it to mean something to them. I want to teach them how to be ready for real life.”
His plan? Simple: He would make his students get jobs, pay bills, and learn that living off of minimum wage would not provide the type of life they wanted for themselves. He wanted to teach them not only about writing checks, but also balancing their check books. He wanted them to know how to find apartments and make wise choices when buying a car or house. He wanted to teach them the math behind paying bills, insurance, and all of the things we face in the real world. Not just pass them along.
At the end of the semester, the students would buy their grade from him. The student that saved the most money could afford the best grade. If they didn’t save their money, they couldn’t make the purchase. Just like real life.
It has been a lot of years since my dad first created this class, but the need still exists. When my school administration asked me, a first year probationary teacher, if I would be willing to teach a math class to seniors who just needed some math units to graduate, a class they called Consumer Math, I knew just what to do.
My peers saw the class as something no one else wanted to teach – something to give to the new guy – but I saw it as an opportunity.
Since it’s founding in 2008, ConsumerMath.org is based on the idea that everything we do as teachers should prepare our students for real life. We develop curriculum, software, and teaching material designed to simulate the real world. Students get jobs, pay bills, and need to learn to keep out of debt all while applying the subject matter we are teaching them.
This approach to grading and teaching will revolutionize the way you teach. Let me show you how.