History of Financial Education

Financial education is often seen as a new development born out of the recent worldwide economic crisis or, at the very least, something recently developed to help people learn how better to invest. In fact, financial education has been with us for generations, though it has evolved over the years. Here we'll provide a brief overview of the history of financial education.

Schoolroom Essentials

There was a time when much of what people learned in terms of financial education was taught in the classroom. This was primarily done through the original Home Economics courses offered through many grade and high schools. Back then, Home Economics was only partly about learning how to make a cake or develop meal plans – it was also about the basic running of a home, including its finances. Betty Dickson, who made a name for herself championing various Home Economics classes since the 1950s, was widely recognized for her curriculum, which placed emphasis not only on the day to day upkeep of a home, but also how to budget, shop and plan in order to stretch a household budget. This is the most basic form of financial education and one which has been disregarded for many years but is beginning to make a comeback.

Although many schools do not offer full year courses in Home Economics, some have begun to offer various foundation financial courses, usually called 'Consumer Math' or 'Financial Skill Building'. These elementary and basic courses aim to arm young people with the skills they need to both further their earning power and make the most of what they earn at every level.

This evolution of financial education has come full circle in some ways, with a focus returning on helping to teach young children. But it has also mushroomed out to help educate older students and adults of every age. These courses are taught in most most schools as well as through community centers and private financial institutions. This new generation of course help to teach everyone how to best plan for the future and make the most of the present.

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