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Materials > Numeracy

Last updated: 15 jan 2007



Among the members of the EMMA consortium there is an ongoing discussion about the definition of numeracy. You can check out the discussion that was going up to late April 2006 by clicking here.




An elaboration on the numeracy concept

Gail E. FitzSimons

The construct of numeracy, where this term or similar has been adopted, is necessarily situated socially, culturally, historically, and politically. It is also contested, especially in relation to decisions concerning teaching and assessment (at a local or an international scale). My own definition is as follows:

Numeracy is a horizontal discourse which draws upon foundations of mathematical knowledge developed by individuals over a lifetime of personal experience and enculturation but which, unlike the vertical discourse of the discipline of mathematics, relies on common sense and is context-specific and -dependent, directed towards the achievement of specific, immediate, and highly relevant goals.


The Development of Numeracy Worldwide in a Nutshell

Mieke van Groenestijn

Numeracy has, in fact, a long tradition in Europe.
After the second world war many literacy activities started in several European countries in the fifties and sixties, often church-based and work-based. It was a main point of attention for UNESCO and the OECD, organizations which started in 1945 and 1947, just after the war, to rebuild and reorganize the countries which had been involved in both world wars, in order to restore and re-develop Europe as an economic and cultural society. Many adults missed parts of their school years due to the wars.........


The Numeracy concept and definitions on numeracy

Mieke van Groenestijn

There are many definitions of numeracy. All definitions are based on the thoughts of individual persons, or groups of individuals, with different (cultural) backgrounds and interests. A definition is often only a means to come to a conclusion about theoretical thoughts or to make theoretical thoughts operational. Even the way in which definitions are formulated may be culturally based. When we discuss definitions we should keep this in mind.


Construction of numeracy concepts

Tine Wedege

As you will see in the EMMA debate, there is a series of distinct concepts of numeracy coming from different historical, cultural and societal contexts. However, they are all defined with reference to people's need of functional mathematical knowledge and skills in everyday life and/or to society's requirements of mathematically competent workers and citizens.


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