So part of our Year 6 curriculum in Australia delves into financial mathematics, mostly calculating ‘percentage off’ deals and giving the kids strategies to work these out mentally.
(For example: if a new tablet computer has a retail price of $840, how much will it cost if it’s discounted by 15%? Well, we know that 10% of 840 is 84, and half of this value must be 5%, so that’s 42. Then we can work out that 15% is 84 + 42 which is 126, and 840 minus 126 = our new price of $714. Much easier for kids to do when they can’t rely on a written method or a calculator to work out 0.85 x 840.)
The fun bit comes towards the end of the school year, once we’ve covered all the AC content strands and we can do some extension projects. Because the financial maths stuff always passes the litmus test for students’ interest and enthusiasm (ie: ‘When are we ever gonna use this’), it’s a great starting point for meaningful problem solving and reasoning activities. At the moment, my kids are working on a project that involves them planning the ultimate trip around the world, where within a few basic parameters they track their expenses from a fictitious trip, converting back and forth between Australian dollars and the local currencies of their destinations. The kids love it, and I love that they love it!
Which brings me to this clip I found on the web, which was made by Australia’s Decimal Currency Board in 1965. It’s pure gold. It obviously worked too, as us Aussies can now add amounts of money comfortably, and even calculate percentage off deals without the need to know how many shillings are in a pound!