A fantastic chance

Text by Franco De Toma, Liceo Scientifico e Classica

Two years ago my headteacher, Dr. Giusy Moroni, asked me whether I could read a document she had just received from our Big Bosses in Milan, i.e. Ufficio Scolastico Regionale and MIUR (that's how we provincial teachers call them!). This document dealt with financial literacy.

My school principle (or should I say Iron Lady from Lodi) knows I am in love with finance in general, she knows I always read Il Sole 24 Ore (probably the most important economic newspaper in Italy) and she also knows I am still in contact with some former students or friends of mine who are either managing some of the most important Italian companies or banks, or teaching economic subjects at university.

Well, thanks to that information exchange, I was given the biggest opportunity in my high school teaching career: being part of a group of researchers, university professors and high school teachers from five European countries, that is Belgium, the Netherlands, Estonia, Slovakia and, obviously, Italy. The project was (and still is) ambitious, fascinating, involving, dynamic and full of cultural messages which I hope will become part of our future students and high school teacher’s daily life in Europe.

That's right, Europe! 

The project, called "Eufin +", is financed by the European Union. We are managed by the exceptionally organized Leuven University, whose staff is patiently helping us whenever we need.

When I went to Brussels for the first time in my entire life (November 2018), I felt two strong emotions. First, I was entering the headquarters of My Europe, the one I love and defend whenever I can; then, I was in a famous University, together with real researchers, far from the overwhelming bureaucracy I often have to deal with, working as a language and culture English teacher in a provincial high school, 35 km far from Milan.

Right now, you might be wondering – and I did it as well on that occasion – what am I doing here? All I could do is maybe talk about Victorian literature or the meaning of epiphany in Joyce... So, during our first transnational meeting, I spoke out my dilemma: "Am I entitled to be in this group?" I honestly hoped they would say YES! Oliver, one of the key figures of this three-year adventure, answered me, by explaining I was there to give my contribution through my personal linguistic, communication and didactic skills. Reassured, I was looking forward to begin...

First task: organize a survey

Therefore, I started helping out, by organizing the first step of our research: a questionnaire on the basic knowledge and common behaviour to bring before at least 1000 high school students and 100 high school teachers in my area, aiming at verifying what kind of financial literacy 16–18 year old students and teachers have.

By sheer coincidence, we are the only country in Europe where economic subjects are not taught at school, with the exception of former technical or professional colleges offering economic courses. I will tell you how things work in Belgium and the Netherlands (The Netherlands, not Holland, please!)

Besides me, our Italian team is made up by Angela, a big expert in finance matters, who works at the Bank of Italy; Marta, a young and brilliant researcher at the faculty of Management Engineering at Politecnico in Milan and Tommaso, a super professor teaching in the same faculty. All of them are nice, competent and prepared... I thought that, by osmosis, I would have learned something as well... Right?

To be continued...