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Edge, D. (2001). Editorial: Special focus issue new mathematical literacy. The Mathematics Educator, 6(1), 1-9.
The term 'mathematical literacy' is typically related to notions of mathematical
competence that will allow someone to function at some acceptable level in his or
her daily and work place life. Before beginning to discuss curriculum change in the
context of new mathematical literacy, it may be helpful first to examine briefly the
construct of 'mathematical literacy' itself. Mathematical literacy, numeracy (Steen,
1999) and, most recently, proficiency (Kilpatrick, Swafford & Findell, in press) are phrases that have all been used to describe in some way an individual's capacity to function at some competent level in a particular society or culture. This capacity generally is understood to include various facts and skills, processes, and
applications essential to daily living and working. The phrases themselves however occasionally cause some confusion.'Literacy' to many people relates directly to language, perhaps specifically to reading and writing the language to some acceptable level. As such these people prefer not to use the term when applied to mathematics, or any other subject area. Numeracy on the other hand
does imply competencies related to mathematics but suffers as a term in that, to
most people, numeracy is seen as a quantitative construct and does not include
topics such as geometry nor statistics. Whether 'mathematical proficiency' becomes more widely used remains to be seen. Kilpatrick et al. acknowledge that
"no term captures completely all aspects of expertise, competence, knowledge, and
facility in mathematics".
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