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ERIC Number: EJ855963
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 9
ISSN: ISSN-1326-0286
Critical Numeracy and Abstraction: Percentages
White, Paul; Mitchelmore, Mike; Wilson, Sue; Faragher, Rhonda
Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom, v14 n1 p4-8 2009
Being numerate involves using mathematical ideas efficiently to make sense of the world, which is much more than just being able to calculate. What is needed is the accurate interpretation of mathematical information and the ability to draw sound conclusions based on mathematical reasoning. This skill may be called "critical numeracy", defined as "being able to critique or make critical interpretations of mathematical information." There is a clear analogy with critical literacy, which involves the realisation that all texts represent different views of the world and requires students to go beyond acceptance to analysing and challenging. How should students be taught mathematics to develop critical numeracy? The traditional approach--sometimes called the "ABC method" because "A"bstract concepts and procedures are taught "B"efore "C"oncrete examples and applications--certainly seems inadequate. In the ABC method, "knowledge acquired in "context-free" circumstances is supposed to be available for general application in all contexts"--but research consistently shows that, in practice, this intention is rarely fulfilled. In this article, the authors describe an approach to teaching percent that puts contexts and application before abstract concepts and procedures. This approach, which the authors call "teaching for abstraction", is the reverse of the ABC method. (Contains 1 table and 6 figures.)
Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers (AAMT). GPO Box 1729, Adelaide 5001, South Australia. Tel: +61-8-8363-0288; Fax: +61-8-8362-9288; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A