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Literacy and Numeracy Across the Curriculum Research Paper


Located in Seaford, Victoria, Patterson River Secondary College is a private school, which was established in the mid-20th century. It offers students a wide range of academic subjects and co-curricular activities to students in grades 7-12. The school is devoted to ensuring the academic, emotional, and physical wellbeing of its students through an extensive pastoral system, supported by qualified personnel. The central values of the school – Respect, Engagement, and Success – are applied to all aspects of the students’ academic and social life. Patterson River aims to grow and develop, and part of this process would be to achieve better literacy and numeracy of the students.

Ever since 2008, the Australian government has been investing its efforts and resources into the improvement of literacy and numeracy across the entire educational sector. As The Gillard Government notes, “targeted funding, coupled with proven strategies to help students improve their literacy and numeracy, lead to better results for our schools” (‘Australia: $41 million for literacy and numeracy’ 2013, para. 4).

However, investing in literacy and numeracy has more benefits than improved academic performance. Whereas the concept of literacy is often equated with reading-to-learn skills (Gomez, LM & Gomez K 2007, para. 6), there is more to it in the context of the contemporary world: “Literacy is now centre stage in education policy, curriculum development, and everyday thinking about educational practice” (Lankshear & Knobel 2006, p. 5). The focus on developing numeracy, on the other hand, is crucial to modern society due to the fast-growing technology sector (AAMT 1998, p. 1). Despite the misconception that numeracy and literacy have to be taught by mathematics and literature teachers respectively, the Commonwealth of Australia (1997, p. 12) insists that both concepts have recently developed into broad cross-curricular topics and thus, to raise students’ literacy and numeracy on a school level, it would be vital to ensure the involvement and cooperation among all the teachers.

Indeed, whereas years ago literacy was perceived merely as a person’s ability to read and write, today it also encompasses computer literacy, media literacy, and even emotional literacy (Lankshear & Knobel 2006, p. 20). Digital literacy is becoming more and more important each year: Lankshear and Knobel (2006) explain, “It is feared that a digital divide will create a deep social and economic inequality, in which those who are not digitally literate will be seriously disadvantaged” (p. 20). Numeracy, on the other hand, is not merely the study of numbers and mathematics. It also includes the field of Critical Numeracy, where numerical abilities are used to solve various everyday issues (Critical Numeracy 2009, para. 1). Critical Numeracy destroys the border between mathematics and humanities, as it works “in combination with other literacies and lenses (emotional, spiritual, ethical, aesthetic, scientific, historical, social, philosophic, environmental, and critical literacy) to help build capacities for wise citizenship” (Critical Numeracy 2009, para. 2).

Given the extensive contemporary scope of both and application of concepts, their development in education requires a well-rounded approach that answers to the latest needs of youths in the modern context. For example, some research shows how collaborative multimodal dialogue can be used to promote the development of literacy in children (Wolfe & Flewitt 2010, p. 388). Some studies propose to incorporate Critical Numeracy into all of the subjects on the middle school curriculum, letting students improve their numeracy by applying its decision-making and critical aspects to the problems in other areas (Goos, Dole & Geiger 2010, pp. 213-216).

Overall, it is clear that both literacy and numeracy can help societies all over the world to achieve a better future in the 21st century (Steen 1999, para. 3). Developing and introducing effective strategies for literacy and numeracy learning in schools will help to reach a better, more integrated curriculum that answers to the needs of the fast-paced and technologically advancing contemporary world.

Reference List

‘Australia: $41 million for literacy and numeracy in Victorian schools’ 2013, Mena Report, 2 March, viewed 15 January 2017, via Academic OneFile.

Commonwealth of Australia 1997,, The Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers Inc., Web.

2009, Web.

Gomez, LM & Gomez, K 2007, ‘Reading for learning: literacy supports for 21st-century work’, Phi Delta Kappan, vol. 89, no. 3, pp. 224-228.

Goos, M, Dole, S & Geiger, V 2010,, Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia, Web.

Lankshear, C & Knobel, M 2006, New literacies: everyday practices and classroom learning, 2nd edn, Open University Press, Maidenhead, UK.

Steen, AL 1999, ‘Numeracy: the new literacy for a data-drenched society’, Educational Leadership, vol. 57, no. 2, pp. 8-13.

The Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers (AAMT) 1998, Policy on numeracy education in schools, Web.

Wolfe, S & Flewitt, R 2010, ‘New technologies, new multimodal literacy practices and young children’s metacognitive development’, Cambridge Journal of Education, vol. 40, no. 4, pp. 387–399.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Literacy and Numeracy Across the Curriculum." August 6, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/literacy-and-numeracy-across-the-curriculum/.

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