Numeracy: Historical, philosophical and educational perspectives

Academic conference

St Anne’s College, Oxford

Wednesday 16 to Friday 18 December 2009 (lunchtime to lunchtime).

In recent years studies of the history of mathematics have turned

increasing attention to the mathematical experiences of ordinary

people and to the teaching, learning and using of mathematics which

takes place outside elite contexts and away from individuals who

might ordinarily identify themselves as mathematicians. At the same

time a focus exists in the educational world on the key skill of

numeracy, its nature and its acquisition. Philosophers of mathematics

have long been interested in the nature of our understanding of

numbers and numerical operations and the nature of basic arithmetical


This conference seeks to bring together these different approaches to

numeracy, in order to share insights about what numeracy is, how we

can recognise it (or its absence), how it relates to other cognitive

capacities and other fundamental questions concerning basic numerical

abilities. It will also provide a forum for the discussion of

detailed case studies from the different realms of history,

philosophy, and education, which will, it is hoped, prove mutually

stimulating and fruitful for new interactions between these fields.

Novel and/or interdisciplinary approaches are particularly welcomed,

and we can accept pertinent studies based on any historical period or

geographical region.

Confirmed invited speakers:

Philosophy: Marcus Giaquinto (University College, London); Stephen

Laurence (University of Sheffield)

History: Natasha Glaisyer (York University); Jane Wess (Science

Museum, London); Kathryn James (Yale)

Education: Terezinha Nunes (University of Oxford); Tom Roper

(University of Leeds); Jane Imrie (National Centre for Excellence in

the Teaching of Mathematics)

Provisional topics include ‘Connecting street mathematics with school

learning’ (Nunes); ‘Functional mathematics: what does it

mean?’ (Roper); ‘Functioning mathematically in the 21st century: UK

perspectives’ (Imre); and ‘Numeracy and early modern scientific

instruments’ (Wess). More information and the conference programme

will be posted at in due course.

The cost will be £100, and will include two nights’ B&B accommodation

at St Anne’s College, and attendance at the conference dinner on the

17th (a reduced rate of £50 will apply to students and to those who

do not require overnight accommodation). The conference is grateful

to the British Society for the History of Mathematics and All Souls

College, Oxford, for financial support.

To propose a paper for consideration please send the title and

abstract (approximately 200 words), together with your name and

affiliation, in the body of an email to the address below. The

deadline for the receipt of proposals is 31 July; every effort will

be made to make decisions by 15 September. Speaking slots will be of

30 minutes, including time for questions.

Registration for non-speaking delegates is now open: to reserve a

place please email the address below. The deadline for registrations

is 1 December, but places will be allocated on a first-come basis,

and early registration is encouraged.


Dr Benjamin Wardhaugh

All Souls College

Oxford OX1 4AL


[email protected]