chapter  5
Numeric and Spatial Concepts
ByCarl J. Couch, Shing-Ling S. Chen
Pages 20

Numeric and spatial concepts are taught to school children as if those concepts had an existence independent of human action, and many regard them as having truth value independent of their use by human beings. Both numeric and spatial concepts emerged from practical concerns wherein people preserved information in artifactual form. Numeric concepts moved to a higher level of abstraction when group numbers came into use. Recording and computation technologies provide procedures for the management of quantitative information, but record keeping only requires command of numbers. Numeric systems facilitate the recording of quantitative information, but do not facilitate computation. Place value systems were probably invented by specialists who managed information by simultaneously using two procedures for the management of numeric concepts. The conciseness, precision, and abstract nature of numeric concepts allow human beings to undertake social endeavors and create social arrangements not otherwise possible.