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Numeracy is human ability to both reason and apply basic mathematical concepts, such as addition and subtraction. A basic possession of numeracy allows the individual to comprehend such notions as 2+2=4. Other aspects of numeracy include geometry, computation, number sense and statistics.
Numeracy is believed to be a product of human evolution in that most humans across cultures can mentally understand numbers in the following two important ways:
- First, humans can grasp approximate representation, such as estimating.
- Second, humans can understand precise representations of items.
Basic Numeracy Skills
Basic numeracy skills allow the individual to grasp concepts such as time, identifying numbers, and performing basic arithmetic. More advanced numeracy skills involve understanding ratios, analytical skills and statistical understanding. It is believed that a child's socioeconomic status has significant impact on the development of numeracy, as such environments produce engaging activities that enhance learning. Parents with higher levels of education tend to mentally stimulate their children with far greater frequency, which enhances numeracy.
Douglas Hofstadter coined the term innumeracy to refer to a person's inability to reason with numbers, similar to illiteracy. Some people of normal intelligence are unable to grasp some basic arithmetical skills, and are said to suffer from dyscalculia, similar to dyslexia, but with math.