Before money was invented, the barter system was the common method of paying for goods or services.

My post today, is dedicated to teachers who are lifelong learners. As we navigate the multifaceted journey of teaching and learning, it's paramount to consistently refine and adapt our methodologies. One such transformative tool that has been gaining traction in the educational sphere is "Action Research." Let’s explore its significance, especially in the dynamic world of mathematics education.

Action Research is a reflective, iterative process of progressive problem-solving. It's not just about identifying challenges; it's about actively seeking solutions, implementing them, and studying their impact on student learning. This cyclical nature ensures that your teaching methods are continually evolving and adapting to the ever-changing classroom environment.

How Action Research Differs from Theoretical Research

Now, imagine that you ploughed the field for a landlord during sowing season. In return for your efforts, the landlord offered you one of his healthiest goats as payment.

The landlord believes that it is appropriate payment for your efforts, since the goat would give you milk for the rest of its life. You feel, it is not enough and worry that the goat may just run away one day. Besides, you must put in effort to keep the goat alive long enough to get so much milk, that it equals your efforts on the farm.

The invention of money is the relief both parties needed!

Money, the universal method of valuing and paying for (and getting paid for) most transactions, goods, and services, is also the centerpiece of our existence.

Barring emotions like love, anger, jealousy and such, there is almost nothing that cannot be measured with money. When we purchase life insurance or medical insurance, we are in effect, even valuing our lives and health in money terms!

Why am I including money Lessons in my Math-centric blog? Simple, Maths and money are like Batman and Robin…or Chacha Chaudhary and Sabu, if you may. Plus, let's be real here, we measure everything in terms of money anyway, so why not let Maths in on the action? It's about time we make these two besties official!

Back to the money talk now…

Isn’t it shocking that we try to shield our children from any talk of money whatsoever, until they become old enough to earn it? Even if we ignore statistics from CMIE and Standard & Poor’s that say that over 76% of adults are not financially literate, common sense dictates that ideas about something so fundamental to life as money, should be introduced to children with the same attention and care as basic literacy and numeracy. Talking about money and Maths in the same breath, will help them see the value of a lot of the Maths they learn too.

When children can learn about the complex reactions of the Urea Cycle, the effects of dunking a piece of sodium in a beaker full of water, the intricacies and politics of the Greco-Roman conquests, the location, flora and fauna of the Tundra region, and the sinuous flows of the sines and the cosines, why do we feel that learning about money is too complex for them? Why deprive them of a critical life skill like managing, growing, and protecting their wealth?

Financial Literacy is not about reading complex technical charts of stock prices, or analyzing businesses to decide if you want to invest in them. We can leave those tasks to adulthood. However, developing a good, general sense of money must begin from a young age. It is about developing the intuition that tells you that “something is wrong” when a storekeeper claims that he does not have Rs.5 change and offers you a Rs.2 candy as change, or when the autowallah rounds off his payment to the nearest 10 in his favour. Little drops of water make the mighty ocean. Let the ocean of small change fill your kid’s piggy bank…and not line the storekeeper’s pockets. It’s not the amount that counts, it’s the thinking.

A little Maths will show them that losing 2-3% of money, even if it sounds like Rs.2-3 on Rs.100 is effectively losing 4-6 months worth of interest in the bank!

I am by no means, asking you to condition your children and students to become miserly, grumpy, “money-minded” individuals who pick fights for small change. On the contrary, one key aspect of the Financial Literacy course I teach is to bring a focus on charity and giving, and why it is healthy to do so. However, the attitude of calculating, measuring and protecting wealth, must develop early, and we must not shy away from instilling it in the young ones.

By 6th grade, your children and students have been well introduced to Money’s best friend: Maths! It is time to help them make Money their best friend.

Now. Not Later.

Key Components of an Effective Financial Literacy Program

A well designed and delivered financial literacy program should:

1. Not rush through the program by just listing concepts and definitions.The instructor’s job should be to inspire thought, discussion and imagination. Definitions are already available in a textbook.

2. Be entirely made of real-life constructs.No made-up stories like going to “buy 1 kg bananas at Rs.50 per kilo, so what would be the cost of 75 kg of bananas”. No individual buys 75 kg bananas, nor do they care about how much profit the shopkeeper makes. And, it turns off the kids.

3. Help children develop decision-making skills. Ideally, including scenarios where there is ambiguity and every decision is possibly right, but each has a different consequence, is a great way to make them good decision makers. About money, and otherwise. That’s how real-life works.

4. Get them talking.Instead of chalk and talk, let it become talk and more talk. More between the students than just the teacher’s monotonous soliloquy.

5. Get them talking more.Give them tasks and exercises where they have to get parents, siblings, friends, classmates involved. Let them debate over every decision. This is often how families make decisions around money. Or at least, they should. It will also create an opportunity for kids to discuss money with their parents. Because, let’s face it, most parents, don’t discuss it with their kids on their own.

The Shameless Marketing Plug:

We just re-launched Countingwell’s Foundations of Financial Literacy course in a new avatar: a series of live classes, delivered online, with a set of hands-on activities and projects that put children in situations where they learn to make financial decisions, weigh the consequences of such decisions, and create room for healthy and insightful discussions with family, batchmates and their teachers.

We also sprinkle it with a lot of Maths.

We go beyond overwhelming kids with a series of terms, acronyms and definitions. We provide our children and students with the financial literacy skills they need to navigate a complex world that places a significant emphasis on money. By equipping them with the tools they need to manage their finances effectively, we can help them create a brighter future for themselves and their communities.

Always count your change. And count it well :-)

I look forward to hearing stories of innovations and ideas you implemented. You may have read about it in my blogs or tried something of your own. Either way, please do write to me and I will be happy to share them (and credit you) with the world through my blogs.

Contact Me

Nirmal Shah


Nirmal is the Co-Founder of Countingwell. He is on a mission to make Maths learning easy, anxiety-free, and participative for schoolchildren. He is responsible for developing and delivering engaging and effective Math lessons and courses that help students develop confidence and problem-solving skills. He has also designed career and life-oriented courses for schoolchildren that show the relevance and importance of Mathematics in various domains and situations, particularly in the domain in financial literacy and money management.

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