“New Math” was new in 1923, writes Chris Correa.
In 1923, the state of U.S. mathematics education was not good. Fewer than half the sevnth-grade students in the U.S. could correctly convert one fifth into a decimal.
A New York Times article from December 9, 1923 reported the Teachers College was going to solve the problem by introducing a new kind of mathematics teaching into U.S. classrooms. Teachers would “abandon drilling” and “bring mathematics close to every-day life” to improve students’ mathematics achievement. As the article explains, children are not attracted to “abstruse mental operation,” so concrete and applicable mathematics problems would increase their motivation and deepen their understanding.
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics reforms sound exactly like the reforms of 1923, Correa notes.
Featured in Week 14 of the Carnival of Education.