Feeling number

David Wagner and Brent Davis have written an article called Feeling number: grounding number sense in a sense of quantity. The article was published online in Educational Studies in Mathematics on Monday. In this interesting article, they draw upon different theories and ideas from psychology as well as cultural and linguistic studies. Here is the abstract of their article:¨

Drawing on results from psychology and from cultural and linguistic studies, we argue for an increased focus on developing quantity sense in school mathematics. We explore the notion of “feeling number”, a phrase that we offer in a twofold sense—resisting tendencies to feel numb-er (more numb) by developing a feeling for numbers and the quantities they represent. First, we distinguish between quantity sense and the relatively vague notion of number sense. Second, we consider the human capacity for quantity sense and place that in the context of related cultural issues, including verbal and symbolic representations of number. Third and more pragmatically, we offer teaching strategies that seem helpful in the development of quantity sense coupled with number sense. Finally, we argue that there is a moral imperative to connect number sense with such a quantity sense that allows students to feel the weight of numbers. It is important that learners develop a feeling for number, which includes a sense of what numbers are and what they can do.

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