Numeracy in the Curriculum

Respond to each of the review questions on p.199 after reading Chapter 9 Numeracy in the Curriculum in Teaching Mathematics: Foundations to Middle School.

1. How would you describe the relationship between mathematics and numeracy?

Numeracy involves choosing and using mathematics in a broad range of authentic and practical contexts, so being numerate is about meeting the needs of the real world  where mathematics can be used.

2. List 5 reasons for why good numeracy skills are important.

  1. To maximise their life chances: studies show that numerate people are also happier (less crime, truancy, etc)
  2. Achieve and attain what they set out to do: get a job, run a business; be a parent
  3. To make a positive contribution to society: Australia needs a numerate population in order to build a strong economy and to compete globally.
  4. To particpate in society: to be social, to interact, demands critical numeracy skills.
  5. To make sense of the media: graphs, stats, population numbers…the media needs  and demands interpretation.



3. What are the key behaviours that are essential to being numerate?

Numeracy is a personal attribute very much dependent on the context in which the numerate individual is operating, so numeracy will mean different things to different people according to interests and lifestyles.:

Numerate behaviour is fundamental to living everyday life efficiently and well: interpreting information is needed all the time; budgeting; buying; eating and preparing food, money skills.

As workers we need to understand employment conditions: wages, leave, superannuation, bank details.

As digital natives, students will need to think critically, literally and with numeracy: interpret data, assess, weigh up options, differentiate, etc.

4. What factors do teachers need to consider when planning for the numeracy opportunities that arise across the curriculum?

There are four key factors teachers can use as a guide to the opportunities and challenges of teaching numeracy across the curriculum:

  • Planning for possible numeracy moments in the learning area
  • Paying attention to and and understanding the students’ numeracy issues
  • Reflecting on the way that mathematics is taught (engagement and support depends on building confidence; numeracy is richly connected)

Also, it is suggested that “bringing the mathematical demands of the context to the students’ attention is recommended, as this contributes to raising the students’ awareness of the numeracy that is embedded across the curriculum.”

5. What does the term ‘critical numeracy’ mean to you?

To me critical numeracy is the way we think about and then apply our knowledge of numeracy, our skills and ability. to make critical and discerning decisions about everyday issues.

6. How can a teacher encourage their students to take a critical numeracy perspective across the learning areas?

Teachers need to help students make the connections between context, the maths ideas and the tools being used to encourage a critical numeracy perspective. Group work allows students to develop deeper understanding through discussion.

And choosing and designing appropriate learning activities is vital: need to be ones that students can relate to and are relevant to their lives at the time.


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