Financial literacy expert Elisabeth Donati calls it experience before content. She says most instructors are taught to stand in front of the class, greet the students and tell them about the day’s topic. But at that point, most students will shut down because of preconceived judgments.
“Half of the audience say they hate (the subject) and the other half think they already know about it — everyone closes their mind,” said Donati, the founder of Camp Millionaire. “Instead, we put them through an experience.”
Donati tells the students to get in groups in four, allows them to work through a hypothetical situation and “debriefs” them after the exercise.
It’s one of the accelerated learning techniques Donati will lead during a free one-day teacher training on Tuesday at the Hope Elementary School District office. The program is free and open to Santa Barbara County residents, teachers, youth group leaders and others who want to teach youth about money.
She created Money Game to give teachers and adults effective, easy and fun education curriculum.
“Accelerated teaching techniques make the lesson ‘sticky’ and kids remember it,” she said. “Most teachers didn’t go to school with that background.”
Donati is the owner of Creative Wealth International, which licenses financial literacy programs and develops educational products. The Santa Barbara resident also founded Camp Millionaire, a two-day camp for children age 10 or older that teaches them sound financial habits through interactive games and engaging methods such as role playing.
The Santa Barbara Unified School District earned a grant through the SBCC Dual Enrollment Program to purchase Camp Millionaire. Rather than watching instructional videos, Donati thought it would be better to show teachers how it’s done. She said it’s more about how an instructor teaches rather than what he or she teaches.
“They are going to learn — from the founder — how to play the game, the philosophy behind the game and the accelerated teaching techniques,” Donati said. “Simply because the game is playful, there’s music and it’s fun, it’s really easy to connect to the kids.”
Other techniques include callbacks, where students repeat a phrase when prompted, engaging students by asking questions, incorporating physical activity and discussing how the subject applies to each student.
“Why do you think our education system is so ineffective?” Donati asked. “Students are forced to learn, they have to memorize and regurgitate information on a test and they don’t get how it applies to them.”
Donati said Lola Paredes, an instructor at Dos Pueblos High School, has been using Camp Millionaire and the Money Game to teach financial education every Friday for the past three years.
“The students never miss Friday,” Donati said. “They love playing the Money Game. So (Paredes) turned other teachers onto it, got this grant and bought six other games. I thought I’m local, I need to teach them how to use it.”
Tuesday’s program will be held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Hope School District office, 3970 La Colina Road in Santa Barbara. Click here for more information.
“We must revolutionize our nation’s financial literacy programs if we want to raise adults who understand how to use money wisely,” Donati said.