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ERIC Number: EJ1106910
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0228-0671
What Is Numeracy?: A Comment on Baker, Street, Tomlin 23(3)
Barwell, Richard
For the Learning of Mathematics, v24 n1 p20-22 2004
In this article, Richard Barwell comments on "Mathematics as Social: Understanding Relationships between Home and School Numeracy Practices," [Baker, Street, and Tomlin 23(3)]. In their article, Baker, Street, and Tomlin give an example of a numeracy event, in which Aayesha, a young informant from a South Asian background, counts on her fingers, three-to-a-finger. The authors see numeracy events as embedded in numeracy practices, such as counting three-to-a-finger. By looking at the different numeracy practices in which numeracy events are embedded, it is possible, they argue, to explore different meanings and social relations involved in numeracy events. In their article, therefore, they speculate on the possible significance of Aayesha counting three-to-a-finger in an interview conducted in her home, in contrast with the practice of counting one-to-a-finger prevalent in her school. They relate these ideas about numeracy with a social view of "mathematics," in the sense that mathematics can be seen as socially constructed. While Barwell supports the social perspective they argue for, their article raises questions for him. For instance, they rely heavily on the notion of numeracy, a term not widely used in a field known as "mathematics" education. Therefore, in his commentary, Barwell, asks: What is numeracy? Is it different from mathematics? Should mathematics educators be interested in numeracy? He considers these questions through an exploration of the origins of the term numeracy in research on literacy. [For "Mathematics as Social: Understanding Relationships between Home and School Numeracy Practices," see EJ1106646.]
FLM Publishing Association. 382 Education South, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2G5, Canada. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A