The Link Between English Reading And Mathematics

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I noted that historically, any link between English reading (Arts) and Mathematics skills (Science) seems to have been at best a tenuous one. The issue brought into the public domain by C P Snow (Rede Lecture 1959) where he claimed: ‘The two cultures (Arts and Science) stare at each other with mutual hostility and dislike…’ If this state of affairs was reflected in educational establishments of that time the likelihood of any meaning full cooperation between those engaging in the teaching of reading comprehension and mathematics would seem to be very remote indeed.
Thankfully, changes in opinion did occur over time and by the 1990’s interest in children’s maths skills also led to an increase in research into the association between
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He subsequently explains that it is the format for instruction that presents the difficulty. He demonstrates if a given task is to calculate a mathematical problem and information is presented as numbers with operational signs sequenced appropriately, children who understand algorithms can proceed with ease. However, when the mathematical task to answer includes information that is presented at the outset in words and sentences, pupils must first comprehend the text before they can use the appropriate algorithmic skill. Obviously then even the best maths students cannot solve problems they don’t fully understand. Fuentes (1998) maintains the narrative of mathematical problems tends to be compacted where mathematical concepts and relationships are often hidden, implied or assumed and the pupil is left to expand and extract the true meaning. This is in marked contrast to the narrative of storybooks which tends to be expansive and elaborate. In addition he notes that the ambiguity found in the interpretation of for example, a poem may well be applauded however any ambiguity in maths text interpretation simply means failure.
From research I have encountered thus far I must agree that good reading comprehension is essential for interpreting mathematical texts. Baker (1995) and Christen and Murphy
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