“When will I ever need this?”. When I worked as a mathematics teacher in lower secondary school, students often asked me this question. Students do not always see how the mathematics they learn in school can be useful in their daily and occupational lives. In such cases, students perceive mathematics as a subject that is only relevant in the school context. However, in recent years there has been a great emphasis on the importance of mathematics and natural sciences for understanding societal and technological developments.
Mathematical literacy is one of the competencies tested in the PISA surveys. Mathematical literacy is defined as the ability to formulate, employ and interpret mathematics in a variety of contexts, and to use mathematics to solve problems in one’s daily and occupational life. The concept has no Norwegian equivalent and does not exist in the Norwegian curriculum. Still, the PISA surveys receive a lot of attention, and it is therefore relevant to examine how mathematical literacy is worked with in schools. I wish to learn more about how schools work to make the mathematics subject relevant for students’ current and future lives and how they prevent mathematics from merely being a school subject with no relevance to everyday life.