Updated: Jun 9, 2020
Meet Mr. G., the Canadian elementary school teacher piloting BANANO in the Classroom with his grade 4 students. BANANO in the Classroom is a banano based incentive program that teaches Canadian youth financial literacy and application skills through personal responsibility, team work, rewards, and crypto currency!
How to Earn BANANO
Mr. G. gives out “points” ($BAN) for simple things like if a group is quiet, ready to listen and work, staying focused on the learning tasks, and walking to and from other classrooms quietly. He has also teamed up with the night custodian to work with the kids on “taking responsibility for their learning environment”. The custodian gives out up to 5 points per group based on how clean the classroom and hallway are at the end of the day. According to Mr. G., “We’ve gone from getting 0/5 to 5/5 in a couple days, which is a huge improvement”.
What Students Can Buy
While not all 8 and 9 year olds may be able to relate to the value of crypto yet, there is other incentive for students to earn and even save their $BAN.
Mr. G.’s “BANANO Store” opens every Friday at the end of every week, and the store accepts $BAN in exchange for various popular items and privileges. It offers something for everybody to enjoy, and the selection is always changing:
- candy, chocolate, and other sweets
- board games
- extra activity time
- mystery boxes
- Chromebook time
- and flash sales on unpopular items
For many of these students, this is their first real exposure to financial literacy and application. There have been many lessons learned in this process: conflict resolution skills, earning/spending/saving, how groups of different sizes experience varying ability to earn/spend/save, how choices directly impact rewards, how the bigger thing is not always the best option, and understanding inflation and other outside influences to the value of money.
Conflict resolution skills: Mr. G.’s BANANO Store requires group purchases to be made with 100% group agreement. To come to an agreement, group members must listen to and discuss each other’s feelings, weigh the pros and cons of their choices, and work through the decision as a cohesive team.
Earning, saving, spending: As you can imagine, it’s not always easy to get a full consensus while making group purchases. Mr. G. told The Daily Peel that students were debating over whether or not to save up 60 points to get a pizza in the following week, or get ten pieces of candy in the current week. According to Mr. G., “We had a really good chat about saving versus spending. [The students] eventually compromised on getting 10 minutes of Chromebook time and then saving the rest. They have 33.5 points going into next week - Looks like I'll be buying pizza next week!”
Groups of different sizes experience varying ability to earn/save/spend: To teach the students about the reality of relativity, Mr. G. did a group reshuffle, keeping the average number of 5 students within a group, and now having a group of 2 and a group of 3. The purpose of this exercise was to see how the new group dynamics impact their ability to earn points. We asked Mr. G. if the smaller groups get discounts on their activities. His response? “No, the groups of two and three still pay full price for their activity choices.”
This is a valuable lesson on what constitutes an “expensive” purchase - as the concept of something being expensive is relative to the amount of money an individual or a group has to earn, spend, and save.
Choices directly impact rewards: All of us experience difficulty focusing on the goal or task at hand at some point. During the month of October and with Halloween approaching, there was an observable increase in excitement and decrease in focus and productivity in Mr. G.’s classroom.
This resulted in less BANANO being distributed to the students than usual. The groups were noticeably discouraged by the sudden slowing down in their progress, but as Mr. G. puts it, “that's part of the lesson, right? Their choices directly impact their rewards”.
The bigger thing is not always the best option: Teaching children financial literacy also means learning to identify a potential problem and use problem solving skills. When Mr. G. showed The Daily Peel the list of items available at their weekly BANANO Store, reporters noted that some items available were a better deal to get in smaller quantities. We asked Mr. G. if this was a mistake, to which he replied:
“It's not a discrepancy, it's a puzzle for them to solve ... sometimes the larger option is not always the cheaper option. It's kind of like at the grocery store; the bigger size isn't always the best value - A life skill lesson.”
Inflation and other outside circumstances: A valuable lesson to include with teaching responsibility and financial literacy to youth is preparing them to understand realities like inflation and other outside circumstances and influences, such as government. Like the rest of the world, Mr. G.’s BANANO Store is not immune to inflation and some prices were raised as a result. “It led to some really good conversations around what inflation means and how it changes the value of money”, says Mr. G..
But inflation isn’t the only outside factor influencing the prices and selection at the BANANO Store. Currently, Canadian educators are engaging in a Teachers’ Strike to push the government to improve conditions for students and teachers. One of the many side effects of this is that teachers are no longer allowed to use personal funds to contribute to their classrooms. Because of this stipulation, some of the prizes were deemed to be not feasible, and has resulted in the removal of a number of items previously available in the BANANO Store.
Why BANANO is Perfect for This Initiative
BANANO is perfect for this initiative because it is fast, feeless, secure, and virtually risk free. Mr. G. estimates that he makes close to 15-20 transactions on a daily basis to keep up with the recognition and rewards system - a task that is no sweat for BANANO’s instant and feeless technology. Since transactions can be sent and received within mere seconds, the class is able to stay updated on their totals and see their progress, at no cost of money or time.
With BANANO’s Free Distribution model, funding BANANO in the Classroom was an easy judgement call to make. It has given Mr. G. and his class the opportunity to learn first-hand what it means to have financial literacy and application skills without the fear of losing actual fiat (in investment or in human error).
“Banano is cool because as a virtual currency, the kids don't need to worry about losing any physical tickets. On that same note, they can't alter their groups banano totals since I control the ledger. I also have it set up so my fingerprint is needed to confirm the transaction.” (Want more info? Click here)
Summary of Progress and Testimonials
It cannot be overstated that the task to prepare our youth for the many challenges of life is neither a small nor an easy one. Educators devote their lives to guiding and supporting students in more than just learning curriculum material. They hold a tremendously influential position as role models and mentors. They teach kindness and problem solving skills, and they nurture students’ ideas and passions.
Educators take it upon themselves to teach students to be harmonious, thoughtful, perceptive, respectful, and responsible agents and citizens of the world. Certainly, preparing our youth for the many challenges of life must come with its own challenges and bumps along the way. We asked Mr. G about it:
According to Mr. G., “Before I started this program I was at my wits’ end. I was so mentally and emotionally exhausted by the behaviours in my class, I was ready to go off on a stress leave. It got to the point I had what I can only imagine was a panic attack in the parking lot before work and couldn't even open my car door. I hit the lowest low, [and that’s] when Oops and I designed this program”.
“BANANO in the Classroom has been a huge hit and has led to a significant improvement in behaviour, overall class cleanliness, and class morale. The students get super excited to cash in their $BAN for prizes each week. Some groups even will save their Banano week-to-week to save up for better prizes. That helps to tie in a lot of the financial literacy skills that I wish I got to learn at 9 years old.”
“Not only has this had a huge impact on my students but it has very positively impacted my own mental health, and self confidence in myself as a teacher. I hope that kind of makes sense.”
It makes perfect sense to us, Mr. G..
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