Chapter

Number and arithmetic

Michael Siegal

in Marvelous Minds

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780199582884
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191702358 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199582884.003.0006
Number and arithmetic

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To characterize and act upon the world of objects, children in every culture count. Counting is as natural as walking and talking – an adaptive specialization for numerical problem solving. But are children's number abilities tied to understanding the meaning of the words that we use for counting? This chapter examines related issues: whether children's early theory of number is limited to the discrete whole numbers that are used for counting or whether they are prompted to accommodate their theory to take into account numerical relations which fill the gap between integers. It also examines children in aboriginal cultures, such as those found in Brazil and Australia, who acquire a language with few words for counting, taking into account their mathematical reasoning.

Keywords: counting; numerical problem solving; children's number abilities; numerical relations; aboriginal cultures; mathematical reasoning

Chapter.  8434 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Developmental Psychology

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