Numeracy vs. Mathematics

March 6, 2020 Lessons Numeracy

‘Mathematics’ and ‘numeracy’ are terms often used interchangeably, but in fact they are quite different.

Mathematics is a broad field of study, a learning area, a ‘subject’. The Australian Curriculum organises the content of Mathematics into three strands: number and algebra, measurement and geometry, and statistics and probability.

Numeracy is a capability, a skill set. It involves knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions. Numeracy is the ability to obtain, process, interpret and convey understanding in a variety of ways appropriate to a given task.

So, mathematics is learned as a body of knowledge. Being able to assess a context, decide that ‘some maths might be useful here’, independently making choices about what maths that might be, and applying it with confidence is what makes a person numerate.   (AAMT 2011)

Students become numerate as they develop the knowledge and skills to use Mathematics confidently across other learning areas at school, and in their lives more broadly.

Australian Curriculum

Without having mastered foundational mathematical concepts, children will struggle with maths in the classroom as ideas are continually extended. It is easy to see how students can experience difficulty becoming numerate in the broader sense. Numeracy is not only important in the classroom; everyone needs these reasoning skills in ‘the real world’.

At Educate Tutoring, we teach foundation and extended mathematics as well as the skills, behaviours and dispositions required for becoming numerate (numeracy).

See National Numeracy UK’s website for more information, or check out their video below for a simple explanation of numeracy.