Numeracy and Learning Objects
What are Learning Objects?
What is Numeracy?
Numeracy is to number as literacy is to literature.
Numeracy is having the disposition and critical ability to choose and use appropriate mathematical knowledge strategically in specific contexts. [Kemp, M & Hogan, J. 2000]
To be numerate is to use mathematics effectively to meet the general demands of life at home, in paid work, and for participation in community and civic life. [AAMT, 1997]
The key issue for mathematics education is not whether to teach fundamentals but which fundamentals to teach and how to teach them.
Changes in the practice of mathematics do alter the balance of priorities among the many topics that are important for numeracy.
Changes in society, in technology, in schools - among others - will have great impact on what will be possible in school mathematics in the next century.
All these changes will affect the fundamentals of school mathematics. [National Statement, 1990]
If numeracy is a functional skill for life, why have schools been so spectacularly unsuccessful in developing numerate students?
Mathematics has been taught and continues to be taught in a largely decontextualised way, as a set of isolated skills, practised independently and rarely connected to life in authentic ways.
School mathematics has been far too "algorithm-dependent", teaching formal methods as the preferred (and often the only acceptable) way to approach mathematical situations. This has been at the expense of an emphasis upon skills of estimation and mental computation.
What might be done?
Encourage and teach multiple strategies, both formal and informal, with an emphasis upon mental computation and flexible approaches to problems.
Wherever possible, situate those problems within authentic contexts, in this way encouraging students to develop mathematical knowledge and skills which are transferable and applicable.
Now have another look at those Learning Objects!