What is
Mathematics?

Often, people equate mathematics with arithmetic. Arithmetic is
concerned with numbers. When considering the mathematics
curriculum, many people focus on computational skills and believe
that they constitute the full set of competencies that students
must have in mathematics. Traditionally, the major emphasis of the
K-8 mathematics curriculum has been to teach children arithmetic -
how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide whole numbers,
fractions, decimals, and percentages. Mathematics involves more
than computation. Mathematics is a study of patterns and
relationships; a science and a way of thinking; an art,
characterized by order and internal consistency; a language, using
carefully defined terms and symbols; and a tool. Teachers and other
educators working together to improve mathematics education must
explore a broader scope of mathematics. Mathematics should include
experiences that help students to shift their thinking about
mathematics and define mathematics as a study of patterns and
relationships; a science and a way of thinking; an art,
characterized by order and internal consistency; a language, using
carefully defined terms and symbols; and a tool.

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