Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What is Literacy and Numeracy?

Why is Standardized Testing Getting in the Way?

What is literacy and why is it so important? Literacy is the
ability to read, write, speak and listen in a conscious way that permits children to communicate effectively and to make sense of a complex world. Literacy represents the lifelong, intellectual process of gaining meaning from a critical interpretation of written or printed text. The key to all literacy is reading development, a progression of skills that begins with the ability to understand spoken words and decode written words, and culminates in the deep understanding of text. Literacy is critical to ensuring your child has real success in school. 

What is Numeracy and why is it so important? Numeracy is the ability to reason and to apply simple numerical concepts. Basic numeracy skills consist of comprehending fundamental arithmetic like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. To be numerate is to have and use number sense, math fluency, math logic and effectively use problem solving to meet everyday math needs. Numeracy skills are essential predictors for students academic success. Because developing and building logical thinking and reasoning strategies are the foundation for all academic disciplines. Numeracy is used to solve problems in a linear and logical way. Numeracy helps students make sense of the language of science. Numeracy is needed to learn numbers, time, fractions, decimals, patterns, shapes and every aspect of all STEM activities.  

The importance of literacy and numeracy to the creative expansion of peoples across the world cannot be overemphasized; neither should it be underestimated nor underutilized. The creative expansion being highlighted ranges from colossal intellectuality to perspicacity of the highest order. A knowledge base that is soundly grounded with literacy and numeracy will definitely give children a head start in life. The head start that these children will get, will serve as a spring board which will no doubt catapult them into the greatness which everyone deserves both as children and when they become adults.

Bearing this in mind, those concerned with the empowerment of people through literacy and numeracy must delve deep into their resources and come up with the best methods and strategies aimed at achieving the right end result. After all, literacy and numeracy is a fundamental human right that everyone needs to protect and advance. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child points out in Article 28, that participating parties should, quote, “recognize the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular…make primary education compulsory and available free to all.” End quote. It is during this stage of education, that literacy and numeracy should be entrenched.

It is the ultimate responsibility of teachers to be the right model for the students who are entrusted in their care for guidance both in literacy and numeracy as well as social empowerment. Teachers should be inspirational and transformational proponents for these young minds. They should espouse the best qualities of humanity for their student charges to model. Pedagogues should also remember that in many cases, students do not get the positive guidance that they crave at home and depend on role models at school to provide this. It is teacher and child psychologist, Haim G. Ginott who reminds teachers that, quote, “they can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.” End quote. These are words that are to be taken seriously by today’s educators.

Students need to experience, honor, model and embody the best of humanity. However, this must be provided by the responsible adults in whose care they have been entrusted. Therefore, everyone, including teachers, parents and individual students have a responsibility to cater to the advancement of these students through literacy and numeracy.

In order for the young and developing minds of students to grow and expand, they must be exposed to more than standardized Reading and Math tests. Their minds must be challenged with curiosity related to learning in its broadest sense. Hence the curriculum in schools should be broadened beyond that. The curriculum should be so expanded and relaxed, that it actively takes into consideration the curiosity, empathy, creativity and human aspects of students.

If all of this is done then numeracy and literacy will be seen as a more important tool aimed at empowering young minds.

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