But I don’t have any numeracy in my course… Why do I still have to teach and assess it…?


1340050882014_3068657This question seems to come up a bit. The answer isn’t entirely straightforward. However, the received wisdom is that it’s all about literacy AND numeracy these days. The idea that you can just focus on literacy alone is something left over a few years back.

Numeracy is possibly more important for people’s lives than literacy. This is controversial. However, if you think of trades: you can get away with not being able to read and write well… but you do need to be able to do basic and some fairly advanced numeracy – often mentally – for most trades.

Furthermore, the TEC requires all of us to assess numeracy using the Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool which is now a funding requirement for most programmes at levels 1 – 3 in our qualifications framework.

So… setting aside the issues around why you have to teach and assessment numeracy, here are some ideas on where to look for it. These ideas are for you if you think that there isn’t any numeracy in your course and you’re wondering what to do.

  1. Look for contextualised numeracy opportunities
    • E.g. focus on time including minutes, hours, dates. This could provide lots of scope for additive strategies. Filling out a time sheet is something that most people struggle with who have to fill them out.
    • Money including budgeting, understanding finances is another area. There are some great resources on financial literacy by the retirement commission, also Sorted.org. Go and see a bank and find out what people struggle with.
    • Basic measurement is something that is a good general life skill. Using a tape measure, scales, estimation, distance, km, m , mm, etc are all areas that you could easily contextualise.
  2. Focus on non-contextualised numeracy that everyone struggles with. There are (at least) three key areas that we all struggle with:
    • Fractions
    • Percentages
    • Decimals
  3. Check out the unit standards for numeracy
    • These could also provide some direction and motivation even if you don’t or won’t assess against them.
    • Also, if you did focus on them your work might provide resources for other areas of study and learning perhaps elsewhere in your organisation.
  4. Start with Maori numeracy found in Maori customary practices. If this is appropriate, it’s a great way to investigate numeracy. Many (if not all) aspects of traditional arts and crafts and other practices have a strong numeracy component that would at least open the door to a conversation about numeracy. Mostly, this great content exists in “stealth” mode and you need to carefully unpack and explore it. For example, find someone to korero with about:
    • Rakau
    • Ta moko
    • Maramataki
    • Tukutuku
    • Raranga
    • Whakairo
    • Personal benchmarks for measurement, e.g. length of patu, height of taiaha

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