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"220 Fatal Accidents": Texts, Talk and Meaning in Adult Numeracy Classrooms. Helen Oughton, University of Bolton - Literacy Research Discussion Group

Date: 3 May 2011 Time: 1.00-2.00 pm

Venue: C89 County South (Meeting Room 7)

Audio-recordings from adult numeracy classrooms will be played to demonstrate how learners responded to two different texts, both of which presented numeracy problems which might be supposed to have socio-critical significance.

When working with the first text, a traditional worksheet of mathematical word-problems, the students appeared not to respond to the social "context" in which the problem was set. However, with the second text, of a very different nature and mediated by the teacher, they responded critically and playfully to the context presented to them.

In our discussion I hope to turn a social practice lens on the adult numeracy classroom, and interrogate the notion of "context". I suggest that the classroom should be regarded as a context in itself, and that word-problems as a genre are associated with a specific set of numeracy practices embedded in their own social purposes.

In order to identify ways to make numeracy learning more relevant to adult learners lives, I want to consider which features of the second activity encouraged the students towards a socio-critical response. In particular, I would like to discuss whether the materiality of the text used, and its mediation by the teacher, can play a role in disrupting the normal expectations of classroom discourse.

You do not need any mathematical knowledge to participate in this session!

Event website:


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Educational Research, Lancaster Literacy Research Centre, Linguistics and English Language


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
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