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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Stare Directly, If You Dare, Into The Education Establishment's Dark Heart, April 19, 2010
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This review is from: The "new" math for teachers and parents of elementary school children (Paperback)
New Math was one of the silliest, most pretentious, and finally most unsuccessful educational gimmicks ever devised; and this book perfectly captures the idiocy of it all. In fairness, the authors were trying to do a good job but their mission is to explain the preposterous.

Prefatory copy in this book "For Teachers and Parents of Elementary School Children" brags: "Rudimentary ideas of geometric shapes are currently being introduced in kindergarten. Children in elementary school are being taught integers, coordinates, rational numbers -- bodies of knowledge formerly reserved for junior high or high school."

According to Wikipedia, "Other topics introduced in the New Math include modular arithmetic, algebraic inequalities, matrices, symbolic logic, Boolean algebra and abstract algebra."

On page 13 the authors boast, "The language and ideas of sets are begun in kindergarten and carried through all further study of mathematics as a unifying thread."

A few pages later we learn that "Principles of numeration cannot be developed effectively if confusion exists regarding the terms `number' and `numeral.' They are not synonymous. A number is a concept, an abstraction. A numeral is a symbol, a name for a number."

Another lovely quote notes: "Geometry is not presented in its classic form in the elementary grades. The child is merely given a working introduction to the study of points, lines, and shapes and their relationships. More formal work begins in the fourth grade."

Every page bristles with charts, graphs and columns of numbers that would try the understanding of the typical college freshman. And you must deal with prose such as: "Addition is an operation on two addends to produce a result called the sum. Subtraction is an operation for finding an unknown addend if the sum and one addend are known."

There are pages in this book that remind me of a college course I took (and barely passed) on symbolic logic. The authors are eager to tell us how to count on base seven, base six, base three, and base four.

Charlotte Iserbyt in her wonderful book "The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America" relates an anecdote about a math teacher who was inadvertently invited to a meeting of progressive educators trying to devise a curriculum to keep children from mastering math. The working title for this abomination was Modern Math. This meeting was all the way back in 1928! So it's clear that New Math was in development for a long time.

The reason this book is important to me is that I believe that just as Modern Math was a precursor to New Math, so was New Math itself a precursor to everything we now call Reform Math. The educators went back into their laboratories and devised more subtle variations of this flop, which they introduced to the public in the 1980s. I believe the sophistry remains the same up to the present: stir in advanced concepts with simple concepts so that children never master even basic arithmetic.

You can just imagine these crazy old progressives around a table in the faculty lounge laughing like hyenas as they craft such points as: "To compare rational numbers named by fractions whose numerators are 1, look at the denominators. The greater the number represented by the denominator, the smaller the rational number."
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The "new" math for teachers and parents of elementary school children
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