ERIC Number: ED359840
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992-Oct
Removing Cultural Barriers to Numeracy.
Bishop, Alan J.
A plenary address to an Australian conference on adult literacy focuses on cultural barriers to numeracy. Mathematics, and therefore numeracy, is considered as part of cultural knowledge. It is noted that over the last decade there has been a growing awareness of the cultural basis of mathematical knowledge and teachers can no longer assume that mathematics is culture-free and therefore value-free. Numeracy is defined as "the particular mathematical knowledge needed by every citizen to empower them for life in that society." It is shown that particular groups have experienced alienation from and conflict with mathematics as it is commonly taught. These groups include ethnic minority children in westernized societies, second language students, indigenous "minorities" in westernized societies, girls in many societies, western "colonial" students, fundamentalist religious groups, children from lower-class and lower-caste families, physically disadvantaged students, and rural students. It is suggested that the key is to first recognize the existence and legitimacy of different mathematical practices, and then search for similarities between them. All mathematical knowledge is analyzable into six main categories: counting, locating, measuring, designing, playing, and explaining. Each of these is described and discussed in terms of teaching and learning activities. Some general principles for numeracy teaching are presented (e.g., even if content is specified by a curriculum, the context for activities and tasks is open to choice by students and teachers). Contains 27 references. (Adjunct ERIC Clearinghouse on Literacy Education) (LB)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Plenary address at the National Conference of the Australian Council for Adult Literacy (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, October 9-11, 1992).