social construction, numeracy, bird collisions, avian flu


Sociologists use the term social construction to refer to the processes by which people assign meaning to their world. This paper argues that numeracy education needs to address social construction. In particular, thinking critically about the statistics the news media report regarding social issues requires understanding the competitive nature of the social problems marketplace, and the social forces that allow questionable numbers to receive widespread public attention. Such critiques must incorporate more than assessing how the numbers were calculated; they must consider the social construction of particular statistics. Two recent examples—claims about the number of birds killed flying into windows, and warnings about the threat of an avian flu pandemic—are presented to illustrate the need to incorporate social construction into numeracy education.



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