Academic journal article Adult Learning

What Teachers Need to Know about Numeracy

Academic journal article Adult Learning

What Teachers Need to Know about Numeracy

Article excerpt

What Teachers Need to Know about Numeracy, By Peter Westwood. Camberwell, Vic:

ACER Press, 2008.

ISBN: 9780864319043.

Paperback, 100 pages.

One could take a random sample of a population and very likely hear expressions and feelings of fear and anxiety when addressing quantitative topics. Phrases such as, "I'm not good with numbers" or "I can't do math" are often used by adults to describe their apprehension with mathematics and numeracy. Understanding the source of that concern and moving learners beyond it, is the subject of this book. In What Teachers Need to Know About Numeracy, Westwood provides an overview of numeracy related topics to help educators connect with students from different backgrounds and assist them in developing their students numeracy skills.

The author begins the book by clarifying terms and highlighting differing points of view regarding numeracy and mathematics and discussing their areas of overlap. He introduces the reader to three cognitive learning theorists--Piaget, Vygotsky, and Bruner--and explains their contribution to understanding how students learn quantitative concepts. Working with adults, educators can use these frameworks to understand the development cycle of their students and design learner centered curriculum. The teaching implications as derived from Piaget, Vygotsky, and Bruner, are analogous to the guiding principles of andragogy.

Although the focus of this book is on school aged children, the content and strategies for addressing numeracy in the classroom are applicable to students of any age. Furthermore, I would posit that in order to effectively teach adults, educators should understand how children are introduced to mathematics as this may provide insight into possible learning barriers that adult students must now overcome.

One theme presented throughout the book is the important role that the teacher plays in developing or truncating students' numeracy skill development. Factors that contribute to teacher effectiveness include competency level, confidence, preparedness, support, and flexibility. By flexibility the author is referring to the ability to teach in a style that meets the students' needs but which may be different from the way in which they learned. …

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