Teacher and school capacity – an examination of numeracy capabilities in the Australian curriculum

Year: 2013

Author: Berenger, Adrian, Skourdoumbis, Andrew

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


This paper examines the capability approach to numeracy as specified in the Australian Curriculum. The paper uses a mixed methods methodology to expound on a fundamental premise as expressed in the curriculum outline, namely that in numeracy knowledge transferability is not necessarily automatic, particularly in terms of other contexts and furthermore, that a proficient understanding of numeracy requires specific, deliberate and contextual knowledge in addition to mathematical skills. To this extent, the paper examines the organizing elements and learning continuum described in the Australian Curriculum, and explores teacher capability (capacity) required to understand, teach, and assess student numeracy. A major finding emanating from the study is that (1) a capabilities approach to numeracy, in particular, the pedagogy of numeracy teaching and learning is totally functionalist in outline which is at odds with broader considerations of numeracy education; (2) teachers need a professional learning framework that ensures a broader understanding and application of prerequisite mathematical knowledge when applied to the classroom; and (3) schools require a consistent educational policy framework so that explicit capability priorities, as articulated in the Australian Curriculum is properly funded and measured. Implications for teacher education are canvassed as a significant part of the study.