I had a really enjoyable morning in Perth yesterday when I linked up with an old friend and colleague Tom Renwick of MathsOnTrack to present a joint seminar on Literacy and Numeracy in Curriculum for Excellence. It was a bit of an experiment for both of us, as we had a notion that the skills and strategies required to develop numeracy and literacy were not so very different, but we had prepared separately, so in the event anything was possible.
Fortunately the delegates, who ranged from primary teachers and headteachers to secondary English, maths and science specialists were happy to throw themselves enthusiastically into the discussion and to help us debate the issues. Whether it was guessing the weight of a golfball or trying to work out how many golf courses there are in the USA, it was agreed that the quality of the thinking was very much dependent on the quality of the language being brought to bear. Likewise, in devising strategies to improve reading, the idea of looking for patterns in a text had resonances in looking for patterns in number.
We examined in detail the language of the learning outcomes for numeracy and mathematics, and concluded that they are as much about literacy as they are about number, and at the end of the morning, when we asked the question, “Does it make sense to discuss literacy and numeracy together?” the answer appeared to be a resounding YES. Thanks to all those who turned out on a cold damp morning. Hope you have taken something away with you to benefit yourselves and your schools.