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Who is responsible for Numeracy?

Is the Maths Learning Area (faculty, department, whatever you want to call it) at your school solely responsible for nurturing the numeracy capability in the Australian Curriculum? That would be like saying the English Learning Area is responsible for literacy. And Digital Technologies is responsible for Digital Literacy, Art is responsible for Critical and Creative Thinking, and Languages holds dominion over Intercultural Understanding. 

If I proposed this model of implementing the Australian Curriculum you would tell me I am mad. I hope.

I would like to open a conversation around the joint responsiblity Learning Areas have for developing numeracy in Australian students. It is hard to know where to start the conversation. As a starting point, how many staff in your school have accessed this page of the curriculum: "Understanding this General Capability", specifically numeracy, and are aware of the document available on this page outlining the progression of the Numeracy General Capability across the year levels?

High quality teachers certainly should have and should be using them in their planning. 

If you are a Maths teacher, how many times have you been asked, "When are we ever going to need this?" or "Why are we learning this?" If the answer is not a lot, then well done to you, your lessons are interesting and engaging enough that they are not even entering the students' minds. But if you have been asked this question, you are not alone, and you are not at fault. And I propose that you certainly are not solely responsible for answering the question.

I am sure that numeracy naturally enters many aspects of daily lesson time in many subject areas. For example, certainly HASS involves mapping and graphing, PE involves statistics and measurement and Art involves patterns and geometry, just for starters. 

But how much is numeracy a natural and deep part of learning and conversation in these subject areas? How confident are teachers in talking about numeracy and embedding it richly in their lessons and assessments? What are the attitudes of these teachers towards Mathematics and what language are they using in front of their students around mathematics and numeracy? I can only imagine that answers to these questions, based on my experiences but I would love to hear from teachers (and parents) thoughts around this.

I have a particular interest in cultural attitudes toward mathematics and numeracy and I plan to engage in some formal study on the subject in the future. These are my early musings and I would be very interested to hear from anyone who has thoughts or opinions on this. Please follow this blog and use the contact field to send me an email, or comment below.

EDIT: I have just come across this quote from Teacher Magazine:

"Numbers are everywhere. We now know that low numeracy affects job prospects more than low literacy (Parsons & Bynner, 2005) and that children with dyscalculia have difficulty managing money and are more at risk of school exclusion that non-dyscalculic children."

This strikes me like a bolt of lightning and should be sending waves of concern and attention across the education and wider community.


  1. I agree that it's a shared effort involving educators, parents, and policymakers. The call to integrate real-world applications into the curriculum is spot on. However, I believe fostering a positive attitude toward math is equally important. Let's empower students to see the relevance of numeracy in their daily lives. Thanks for this beneficial and informative article.

    1. Thanks for your comment Rum Tan. A positive attitude towards math could be revolutionary in Australian society. I hope in my lifetime I see a paradigm shift in this area.


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