Mrs L. Walter
The difference between Mathematics and Mathematical Literacy:
Mathematical Literacy focuses on the role of mathematics in the real world, whereas Mathematics focuses on the discipline of mathematics in the academic world.
With Mathematical literacy, relevant current contexts are used, whereas with mathematics, applications are important, but do not have to be only real life contexts.
With Mathematical Literacy only basic mathematics is needed and a few new concepts are introduced in Grades 10 and 11. In Mathematics, content is expanded on as the learners progress from one year to another.
In Mathematical Literacy the contexts become more complex from year to year whereas in Mathematics both the content and contexts become more complex and advanced each year.
One of the major differences between Mathematics and Mathematical Literacy is that Mathematics focuses on formal, more abstract mathematical concepts, whereas Mathematical Literacy focuses on the areas in real life where mathematics is needed i.e. on problems and situations related to daily life contexts in which mathematics is imbedded. As such, Mathematical Literacy is in no way equivalent to the old SG Mathematics but rather a completely different subject with its own distinctive curriculum and purpose.
What is Mathematical Literacy?
In the curriculum statement, the Department of Education gives their definition of Mathematical Literacy: Mathematical Literacy provides learners with an awareness and understanding of the role that mathematics plays in the modern world. Mathematical Literacy is a subject driven by life-related applications of mathematics. It enables learners to develop the ability and confidence to think numerically and spatially in order to interpret and critically analyse everyday situations and to solve problems.
The Impact of choosing Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy will have on your studies:
The biggest impact that your subject choice has is on the tertiary education opportunities available to you after school. In other words, whether you decide to take Mathematics or Mathematics Literacy has an impact on the degrees or diplomas that you are able to study after school.
Generally speaking, most universities require you to take Mathematics in order to be accepted to study within the fields of Commerce; Engineering, The Built Environment and IT, Health Sciences and Science.
Mathematics Literacy is typically accepted for fields such as Humanities/ Arts and Education (depending on your specialisation). These are just some examples and requirements differ from institution to institution.
There are also exceptions to the above, for example some Humanities degrees (such as Psychology at UCT) require Mathematics.
What will you learn in Mathematical Literacy?
Learners of Mathematical Literacy will learn how to:
- Perform basic arithmetical operations.
- Work with relationships between arithmetical operations.
- Work with simple formulae, including formulae for perimeter, area and volume; and speed and time.
- Estimate and check estimates against the situation.
- Work with and apply the concepts of ratio/proportion, percentage and rate.
- Determine input and output values for formulae (solve equations).
- Determine and plot the points for different graphs.
- Interpret information and trends communicated through graphs.
- Measure lengths, distances, volumes and mass (weight).
- Convert between units of measurement.
- Draw and interpret scale drawings.
- Use grids, scales and maps.
- Organise data using tallies and tables.
- Summarise data using the measures of mean, median and mode.
- Represent data using various data graphs, including pie charts, histograms and bar graphs
- Critique interpretations of data.
- Round up, round down and round off.
- Work with linear and constant relationships.
- Distinguish between piecewise and continuous relationships.
- Read and interpret information presented in tables.
- Anticipate the impact of interests
What do you have to do to obtain good marks in Mathematics?
To do well in Mathematics requires all these things, in taking Mathematics as a subject you are making a 3 year commitment to work hard every day. The new CAPS syllabus is very full and very challenging. It will challenge you daily and push you to new limits which will expose you to different problems on a daily basis.
Mathematics is not for the lazy or for those who are going to give up on themselves, it is for those of you who dream BIG and fight to achieve those dreams.