The conventional wisdom equates “literacy” with fundamentals of reading and writing, and it equates “numeracy” with basics of mathematics. Literacy, however, advances well beyond the basics to public speaking and conversation, figuration, and sophisticated inference.
When adults learn numeracy skills, they similarly move well beyond the basics, developing sophisticated skills that help them advance in their careers. When they learn numeracy skills, adult learners ultimately master multiple operations and the sequence of operations. They learn about patterns and sequences so that they can recognize the differences among arithmetic, geometric, and exponential growth. When adult students learn numeracy skills, they master the fundamentals of geometry—perimeter or circumference, area and volume.
When they complete the series of classes in which they learn numeracy skills, adult students ultimately have the same command of math as students entering university—no longer just the basics.