Article

Numeracy Education

Mike Askew

in Education

ISBN: 9780199756810
Published online November 2014 | | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0118
Numeracy Education

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  • Organization and Management of Education
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Numeracy has become an integral part of mathematics education. But the precise nature and implications of teaching for numeracy in primary/elementary and secondary schooling are still being worked through by the academic, practitioner, and policy communities. Although numeracy is generally accepted as recognizing the importance of schooling that ensures students will learn mathematics that can be applied in their adult lives (as opposed to say, the mathematics required for further study of the discipline or for specialist professions), there is yet to be agreement on what this should look like in practice. At one extreme, numeracy is interpreted as equipping school leavers with the basic skills of arithmetic in that numeracy is regarded as a subset of mathematics. At the other extreme, arguments are made for numeracy teaching needing to address the political dimensions of mathematics and its uses in society and thus help learners become critical citizens. Sections of this bibliography present key texts for each side of this debate. A common assumption to both positions is that learning about number and arithmetic has to go beyond being taught procedures and needs to help learners develop “number sense.” Many scholars have theorized and researched what the components of number sense might comprise, and others have examined the sorts of pedagogies that might promote such learning: key texts in teaching and learning for number sense are presented. If it is the case that current schooling is not succeeding in helping learners develop the numeracy skills that they need for life outside of school, then this raises questions about the nature and content of the school curriculum. One approach to accounting for the shortcomings of school-taught numeracy is that learning is highly “situated”: what is learned is heavily influenced by the contexts in which it is learned. Hence, different levels of numerate behavior are demonstrated by learners in different contexts; and the argument goes that it may be only a select few learners who have the wherewithal to transfer their mathematical knowledge out of the classroom. Other researchers are more optimistic that the school curriculum can promote numeracy, particularly by engaging learners in authentic problem solving, although what is authentic for one learner may not be for another, which raises issues about equity. Finally, with the increased use of international comparisons to compare nations, policymakers are increasingly concerned to raise standards of numeracy and so a section examines some policy initiatives and outcomes. Readers should note that although there is an increasing literature base about college-level numeracy, and wide research into adult numeracy, the scope of this review mainly addresses numeracy in primary and secondary schools.

Article.  7105 words. 

Subjects: Education ; Organization and Management of Education ; Philosophy and Theory of Education ; Schools Studies ; Teaching Skills and Techniques

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