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This is a good point, and a relevant one when discussion Common Core with people. At the surface level, I don't see anything in the new mathematics curriculum that I would consider negative, but the biggest complaint I hear is that parents can't understand it, and some teachers barely do either. But that hints at a deeper problem.



I think this is indeed part of the problem. One of the problems I've encountered is they sometimes use unusual or unfamiliar terms for what are actually fairly simple concepts, and if you're helping your kids with their homework, it may not be obvious what they're supposed to be doing.

One simple example (which I'm probably mixing up) is "making tens"; when doing addition or subtraction, rather than blindly memorizing a bunch of facts like "3+8=11", they learn to break the numbers up, so you take 3 and 8, "make a ten", and have one left over.

This is actually a great thing to help with understanding of what's going on with math, and after my kids showed me a few examples, I totally got it. But for those who are less open to new ways of teaching, it may just seem like change for the sake of change. And it's not just math; they're also teaching other subjects (such as writing) in newer ways, which I honestly think are fantastic - having kids spend time writing every day is great.

There are also quite a few bad questions in the workbooks; this has probably always been true, but the combination of bad question plus unfamiliar (to parents) concepts causes a strong reaction. Plus the whole "the gubmint is trying to brainwash mah kids!" contingent overreacting about everything....


I think the reaction against New Math was a part of the general reaction against all of what many viewed as the "weirdness" of the 60s, an anti-intellectual attitude that was often used by powers-that-be that also felt threatened by these upheavals.

My, I'd be happy if we had military dictatorship which imposed a new order including the metric system, radians instead of degrees and algebra from 1st grade onward. But I don't think that program would have a sufficient constituency.


Wrong. It was a reaction against the utterly predictable failure of a contentless approach to instruction which started and ended with the rhetoric necessary to convince pseudo-intellectuals that supporting it demonstrated political discernment and moral virtue.


Can you please elaborate on what you mean by "contentless"? I just checked out the wiki page on New Math and it seemed to have covered (with the exception of inequalities) a few topics that usually get covered in the first couple of chapters of an intro to abstract algebra book.


I was actually coming back to delete the original comment as it wasn't very well thought through. I mean, sure, of course there was "content". There were chapter headers as so on and so forth. It would be better to criticise the absense of thought put into having a theory of instruction beyond "Experts do this, therefore if we teach this, we'll create experts"


The gradient between the student and rest of society was too high. Teachers didn't know how to teach it, parents didn't know why it was important. I think now it could fly, just put computer in front of it.




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