WHY MATHEMATICAL LITERACY MATTERS Mathematical literacy involves more than executing procedures. It impliesa knowledge base and the competence and confidence to apply this knowledge inthe practical world. A mathematically literate person can estimate; interpret data;solve day-to-day problems; reason in numerical, graphical, and geometric situations;and communicate using mathematics. As knowledge expands and the economy evolves, more people areworking with technologies or working in settings where mathematics is acornerstone. Problem solving, the processing of information, and communicationare becoming routine job requirements. Outside the workplace, mathematics arisesin everyday situation after situation. Mathematical literacy is necessary both at workand in daily life. It is one of the keys to coping with a changing society.Mathematicalliteracy is as important as proficiency in reading and writing. Mathematics is soentwined with today’s way of life that we cannot fully comprehend the informationthat surrounds us without a basic understanding of mathematical ideas. Confidenceand competence in mathematics lead to productive participation in today’s complexinformation society and open the door to opportunity.
WHAT MATHEMATICAL LITERACY IS.The definition of mathematical literacy has been “Today’s mathematics curriculum mustdebated internationally for decades. The Expert prepare students for their tomorrows. ItPanel feels confident that the broad outline of a must equip them with essentialvision for mathematical literacy is now widely mathematical knowledge and skills; withaccepted. skills of reasoning, problem solving, andThe OECD Programmed for International communication; and most importantly, withStudent Assessment (PISA) (OECD, 1999) defines the ability and the incentive to continuemathematical literacy as: learning on their own.”an individual’s capacity to identify and (Ontario Ministry of Education andunderstand the role that mathematics plays in Training, 1999a, p. 3)the world, to make well-founded mathematicaljudgments and to engage in mathematics, in Mathematical literacy also implies theways that meet the needs of that individual’s ability to pose and solve mathematicalcurrent and future life problems in a variety of situations, asas a constructive, concerned and reflective well as the inclination to do so, whichcitizen. often relies on personal traits such as(p. 41). (p. 86) self-confidence and curiosity. “In the changing world, those who understand and can do mathematics have significant opportunities and options for shaping their future.” (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics [NCTM], 2000, p. 5)