Digital Media Leads Young Minds to World of Economics
The country's economy notably ranks among the highest worldwide with per capita income on its way to reach over $30,000. Strengthening the economy means stability and prosperity. The government and industry did not emphasize this enough until now when the nation fears being sandwiched between fast-rising China and highly-advanced Japan in Northeast Asia.
Mindful of this, the market is prioritizing teaching children the importance of learning economics especially nowadays when Korea has passed the Capital Market Consolidation Act and is vying to make the financial industry its main economic growth engine just as the manufacturing industry is now.
However, children have often shun learning about money and savings at schools with thick textbooks and supplementary kits that contain lots of hard jargon to understand.
So organizations such as the Financial Quotient Counsel and the Economic Education Center at the Bank of Korea (BOK) are utilizing multimedia technologies to lure kids into learning about economics and finance.
Cho Deok-keun of the central bank's learning center for kids said showing flash animations and digital videos has proven to be very effective in making children feel that learning about spending and investing can be ``fun and entertaining.''
``Getting them involved through interactive media with teachers is the way to go especially in this digital age,'' said Cho. ``This helps them get more attached to the subject and eager to learn more.''
Not only showing clips that are made to help kids easily understand about, for example, the role of the BOK and the market, but also 3D computer games featuring cute characters who find themselves in situations where they have to solve economic mysteries have been highly successful as digital education kits, he added.
For example, the center offers a racing game that is similar to playing the famous online game ``Kart Rider.'' But to boost the players' speed while on the racetracks, kids have to answer questions about supply and demand.
Another popular game by the BOK's education center lets kids become a world adventurer on a mission to experience the wonders of banking systems between nations.
Cho said that it is imperative to help kids get involved in economics at an early age, as it will expand their interests in the subject further as they grow up to be adults.
The Financial Quotient Counsel, in the meantime, shows cartoons with interactive characters learning about markets such as securities and banking.
``You wouldn't want to spoon feed them too much with excessive information about economics. They get enough of that at schools,'' said Lee Seung-pyo of the counsel. ``You have to remember that these are very young healthy kids. So, it is important to teach and at the same time, help them develop and use their rich imaginations.''
The quotient invites professionals working at organizations such as the Ministry of Finance and Economy to teach economics at schools nationwide either during or after class hours.
He said such digital materials used for economics education greatly supports the knowledge children, as well as young adults fail to gain from school textbooks.
In fact, the central bank's recent survey shows that more than 74 percent of 88 economics teachers say that school textbooks are too hard for the young to comprehend. Only 1.4 percent said they are highly useful for teaching students.
More than half of teachers say that this is because textbooks only explain the theories of economics and are far from their everyday lives, making them difficult and boring. The survey said newspapers and the Internet help young adults learn more about economics than textbooks.
Economics classes are also extremely short compared with other subjects such as English, mathematics and science.
To this end, very few students choose to take an economics class and feel the subject is less important than others.
Most agree that a sound economics education system needs to be adopted at schools where they only focus on giving tips to students on how to get high scores for college entrance exams.
``The European Union, for instance, requires students to take economics classes to teach them its importance relative to the nation's economic growth,'' noted the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry. ``It is imperative that Korea does the same and expands the duration, program numbers and education material.''
Besides flash animations, e-books and other digital arts, user-created contents (UCCs), the mainstream of media for web publishing, are also being utilized for economics education.
The Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) said it is working with Daum, one of Korea's leading search engines, to hold a contest to select and the best UCCs that effectively feature and teach the A, B, Cs of finance.
It said that this is to increase its appeal to the young through the latest media culture in line with efforts to boost youth education on finance.
Securities companies such as Samsung Securities and Mirae Asset Securities are joining to expand education programs for kids by having them more engaged in field trips and plays.
Experts say the more people know how the economy works, the better they'll act towards helping to overcome economic difficulties and encouraging economic development.
In other words, knowledge is power within the economy. This understanding must come from a better economic education.