Educational Project “Financial Literacy” with Foreign Specialists

Author:

Marta Asatryan

 

           International educational programmes in public education, especially at “Mkhitar Sebastatsi” Educomplex, are constantly developing programmes with new prospects. The educational bridges stretched from the Educomplex to other schools in Armenia, Artsakh and Tbilisi are strengthened, promoted and moved to a new level. Development becomes more dynamic when local and international educational structures are involved in co-operation. It is also the best way of spreading our author educational programme and studying others’ experience for implementation.

       Here I want to set apart one initiative from the rest of international partnerships and speak about it in details. That is the one-month educational project “Financial Literacy with Foreign Specialists” which was carried out at High School of “Mkhitar Sebastatsi” Educomplex with the collaboration of the organization AIESEC Armenia in 2016.

        AIESEC is a global youth organization which involves students and graduates in international educational exchange programs to develop leadership and management skills. The AIESEC international office is in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The AIESEC global net comprises about 65000 members in 110 countries making AIESEC the biggest organization in the world managed by the youth. It exists in 2100 universities of the world and it has provided 12000 leadership practical training. Every year it involves the university graduates in 17000 international exchange programs.

         “Mkhitar Sebastatsi” Educomplex has signed an educational exchange contract with the organization AIESEC. In pursuance of this contract young specialists from Canada, Brazil, Turkey, Hong Kong and the USA were hosted at the lodgings of the Educomplex in January-February 2016. They were to carry out the educational project “Financial Literacy”. Before the official start of the course the foreign specialists had 3 meetings (1 2 3) with the High School teachers and students of the Educomplex in the distant online teaching-learning period at our Educomplex when all the public schools in Armenia were having prolonged winter holidays. They also took part in the educators’ January school.

        In February, on restarting our lessons in physical environment, a three-week time-table of the course “Financial Literacy” was formed (three trainings a week with two successive lessons). Specialists Emily Thompson (Canada), Kelvin Kan Kin Chun (Hong Kong), Isabela De Scarpa Anzuino (Brazil), Chondra Herman (the USA) began teaching the course according to the time-table. The participants of the project were learners of Grades 9-12. The total number of the learners involved in the project was 70.    

         The aim of the project was to give the learners some knowledge in Economics and Finance. A similar project, called “A Month of Economics”, was carried out by the specialists of the Central Bank of Armenia for the learners of different age groups of the Educomplex. This year the contents was presented in English as the specialists didn’t know Armenian. Because of the project “Financial Literacy” the learners had to encounter a propulsive usage of a foreign language. So it was a perfect opportunity for the learners to develop their English language competency and to communicate with a foreigner at ease. The lessons were conducted with a unified model: theory, practical usage of the theory with the help of games. The knowledge and skills acquired by the learners are, of course, very important, but the foreign specialists’ involvement in the Educomplex life is not less important.                     

·         Participation in the teachers’ dancing lessons

·         Participation in sportive trainings

·         Campus tour in the schools of the Educomplex

·         Participation in Ghapama ritual

·         Individual projects with learners

·         Participation in the review “We are Reading”
The invited specialist from Brazil is taking part in the review “We are Reading”
The invited specialist from Hong-Kong is taking part in the review “We are Reading”
The invited specialist from the USA is taking part in the review “We are Reading”

·         The invited specialist wrote an article for our school website

 

The participation of the foreign specialists in the review “We are Reading” was not only interesting because of unusual activity. The learners understood why it was difficult for foreigners to utter Armenian words, and which sounds were especially difficult for them to pronounce.      

The learners of Grades 9-12 took part in the final summarizing round table discussion. The learners and teachers spoke about their impressions. They were of the opinion that it was a very interesting project saturated in its contents. The learners not only learned something new in finance but also something new about the culture of the countries the specialists came from.

Consistency and continuity is important in any case, as they bring to the desired result. The learners were always telling about this international project in their blogs and school website in Armenian and English texts, radio and video materials.

In the result of the project summary I understood that the learners were taking part in the lessons with great love, and the lessons were even enjoyed by the learners who are a little indifferent to their studies. It was obvious that the lessons were attractive and effective.

It is undeniable that nowadays education can’t be restricted only by teaching some knowledge and skills. Now education is aimed at students’ mental development as much as possible. The foreign student-specialists had their everyday lesson-plans. They had their aims, objectives and necessary means to reach them. The learners weren’t bored by two successive lessons three times a week. They enjoyed themselves taking part in these lessons. There wasn’t any compulsion, any text retelling or any assessment of the learners’ work. I have been present at the lessons and seen the process which was calm and collaborative. The specialists were able to creating a loving atmosphere which is very important for the final result.

All our teachers, who are carrying out author educational projects, should be able to work out and realize such type of projects. Ordinary process of lessons, retelling some texts, doing some tasks and assessing or not assessing the learners for these tasks reduces the learners’ motivation to study any course.             

It was interesting that the foreign specialists were constantly encouraging the learners; I never saw them reproaching or getting angry. It was inspiring the learners, and they were not afraid of making mistakes.

Some British psychologists have made an experiment among learners. A group of students were to do a task in the presence of their teacher. The teacher was supposed to came up to some students and show her interest in how they were doing the task, praise and encourage them. Some students were only reproached and told what mistakes they had already made. The teacher was to be indifferent to a small group of students. She didn’t come up to them. She neither reproached nor encouraged them. The results are as follows: the task was best done by the students whom the teacher had encouraged and inspired; the task was badly done by the students whom the teacher had reproached and focused the learners’ attention on their mistakes; the task was done worst of all by the students to whom the teacher had been indifferent.        

Let me bring another example. The specialists used interactive games during the lessons. These games drew the learners’ attention to the theory items they had just been told about. So the games made helped the teachers to concentrate the learners’ attention on the topic which was under discussion. Games require contrivance, attention, joined efforts in team work, imagination and skills in finding right solutions quickly.

Monotone uniformity of teaching is tiresome and boring with all its negative consequences I encounter every day as High School principal. This experience makes me be more consistent about the teachers’ training courses, the contents of project based teaching, reconsidering the contents of subject syllabuses for the new school year.     

 

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