Quantitative literacy, numeracy, numeracies, social practice, new literacies, Venn model, Mathematics Association of America, National Numeracy Network, National Council on Education and the Disciplines


The purpose of our new Roots and Seeds feature is to provide an open-access space to archive first-hand accounts of QL activities that have preceded our journal (2008). The first two contributions in the collection appeared last issue: Linda Sons on the making of what has come to be known as the 1994 Sons Report (Mathematics Association of America), and Dorothy Wallace on her path to the Quantitative Literacy Design Team for Mathematics and Democracy (2001), and the questions that bedeviled them then – and us now. In this issue, we get Rick Gillman’s account of how the committee that produced the Sons Report transitioned into an intra-MAA special interest group, the SIGMAA-QL, which led to a QL special publication, MAA Math Notes #70 (2004). These three histories, together with the From the Author piece in this issue by Tunstall, Piercey and Karaali on the just-published Math Notes (#88) (sequel to #70) paint a picture already of the history of QL as a nexus of social practices involving people, institutions, societies, committees, publications, and more. So far, two major threads are evident: the MAA thread and the NCED thread (National Council on Education and the Disciplines); the NCED thread, which includes Mathematics and Democracy and the National Numeracy Network, is a legacy of non-mathematician Robert Orrill.

We hope and expect that the Roots and Seeds collection will speak to the notion of communities within our community, and numeracies within what we and Numeracy call “numeracy.” In that vein, we define Numeracy’s target community as “people who care about QL,” and for that community we muse on a Venn model of three intersecting sets: (1) mathematicians, (2) inside the U.S., and (3) publish in Numeracy, and we resolve to expand our numbers in all eight subsets of the target community.

We close by noting that this issue also contains the second installment of a theme collection on social justice. That is our third such collection – the others being financial literacy (2013) and assessment (2015) – which reminds us, of course, of the great potential of thematic threads through our QL nexus. So far, the Roots and Seeds have all been on organizational threads. We have only just begun.



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