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Sparky

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"New Math"
« on: March 12, 2021, 11:28:24 am »
If you went to school during the 1960s-70s, and you remember being taught the "New Math," (set with intersections and unions, modular, clock or other bases arithmetic, etc.), please tell me if you think it helped or hindered you with your understanding and ability to do math. Did you have it mostly in elementary, middle, or high school, or all the way through?

I'm asking because my mom gave me a box full of papers and things from my childhood, and in it were some papers from math that had problems on them similar to the way we are teaching math today, so I started diving into comparing the New Math with today's math for a paper I'm doing for my Education Specialist degree. So, curious!

(btw, some things are similar, but most things are not: no set theory, no alternate bases, like base 2 or binary base)
 
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Roper

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Re: "New Math"
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2021, 11:48:03 am »
When I was in elementary school, I learned the standard algorithm for everything. I think that was unfortunate, because I grew up understanding that there was only "one true way" to do math. When I taught fifth grade math, I ensured that my students understood multiple ways to think about numbers. I taught them multiple ways to solve problems. For example, my students learned how to do division quickly and efficiently, completing smaller steps mentally and quickly writing down a summary step to keep them on track. I had only one tool, long division, when I was in school. It took way too much time and was prone to errors if you didn't keep the numbers lined up exactly right.
All grown-ups were once children...but only few of them remember it. ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, "The Little Prince."
 
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AndrewR

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Re: "New Math"
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2021, 12:19:33 pm »
As you know I am in the UK, so I grew up in a UK system. "New Maths" means noting to me as a term.

I do know that I believe I was taught mathematics in a better way than my children, and now grandchildren, appear to be. My daughter with children aged 4 to 10 struggles with the way they are taught, and she is only 33.

I started school in 1970, just before my fifth birthday. I as taught number, basic arithmetic, how to tell the time.

By the time I left Primary school, to go to Secondary school (just before my twelfth birthday), I knew how to;
  • add, subtract, multiply and divide whole numbers and fractions
  • I understood powers, and roots
  • I could work in number bases binary to decimal, and convert between them


In my first year at Secondary school we learn about:

  • π and circumference/area of circles, volume of cylinders
  • basic trigonometry COACAHTAO
  • Pythagoras

The next couple of years involved much of the same, gradually increasing the difficulty of the questions.

Adding in linear equations, and solving simultaneous linear equations.

Fourth and fifth years were preparing for  'O' levels, the national exams at the time. By that time we had covered:

  • Matrices
  • Logarithms
  • Solving quadratic equations
  • Sine and Cosine rules
  • Probability, means, medians, standard deviation
    • And stuff at that sort of level I can't remember

    It should be noted I was always in the highest set, some of my peers may not have covered all that I did.

    Also, during that time I was taking a higher class in mathematics that included differentiation and integration, mechanics, imaginary numbers.

    The last two years I was doing 'A' which continues through Pure and Applied Mathematics - the hardest being differential equations.

    I am happy with how I was taught, but I am a mathematician. My BSc is Maths and Chemistry.

    I remember it all. I remember being taught about binary and octal. I remember the class where we worked out π. I remember using trig. to calculate the height of a tree. I remember the actual lessons.

    I loved it all. So if this didn't help, the trip down memory lane was fun.
Don't ask me, I only live here.
Nauvoodle since March 2005 #1412
 
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Sparky

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Re: "New Math"
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2021, 12:46:42 pm »
Roper, it sounds like you were taught math during the "Back to Basics" era which was a backlash to the "New Math" era of math instruction in the US. I started teaching during the Back to Basics era when the standard algorithm was all the rage. I like how we are teaching math now.

Andrew, with the inclusion of bases in your primary years, it sounds like you "might" have been taught the "New Math" type of instruction. I don't really know much about the UK methods of instruction. And like you, in doing my research, it has been quite fun and instructive to go down memory lane!
 
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Roper

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Re: "New Math"
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2021, 12:50:03 pm »
One of my sons will be a senior in high school next year. He can choose to take statistics instead of calculus for his final math credits. I'm happy for him. He'll use statistics throughout his life a lot more than he'll need calculus. My high school (early 80s) didn't have statistics. I didn't take a stats class until my second year of college. And I have never used the calculus I learned in high school.
All grown-ups were once children...but only few of them remember it. ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, "The Little Prince."
 
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Roper

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Re: "New Math"
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2021, 12:53:19 pm »
Sparky, my elementary school years were 1973 - 1978, in super conservative eastern Idaho. I remember my dad grumbling about "New math" and how none of his kids would be learning that mumbo jumbo if he had anything to say about it.  ???
« Last Edit: March 12, 2021, 12:56:51 pm by Roper »
All grown-ups were once children...but only few of them remember it. ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, "The Little Prince."
 
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Taalcon

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Re: "New Math"
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2021, 02:47:48 pm »
My kids can do math quicker and better than I ever could. A big part is because of how they are now taught to conceptualize the ideas rather than limiting it to straight linear equations.
 
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JLM

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Re: "New Math"
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2021, 09:37:19 am »
The old way was to just teach math processes. The new way is to focus on the logic and rules of math theory and let them work through discovering the processes.
 
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AndrewR

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Re: "New Math"
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2021, 12:54:15 pm »
Quote
The old way was to just teach math processes. The new way is to focus on the logic and rules of math theory and let them work through discovering the processes.

And both methods have merits - but usually for different types of learner.

I like to be taught something - I don't like being taught how to discover something.

'A' level physics in my high school was taught using a syllabus known has Nuffield. It was a 2 year, pre-university, course that was about discovering physics. I hated it. I wanted to just be taught the physics.

I passed the course, but with a lower grade than I wanted. I then did three months of a traditional physics syllabus with a different examination body. One on one teaching. And I was crammed full of facts, equations, etc. I re-took and passed improving my grade by one. I still have those facts and equations.

But I know that I had peers who thrived with the former method.

New Math, Old Math, Current Math. Whatever method is used some with thrive and some will not.
Don't ask me, I only live here.
Nauvoodle since March 2005 #1412
 
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cook

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Re: "New Math"
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2021, 01:18:01 pm »
Here it didn't come really until about 1970-1972, and it was already changed from the US version by a Nordic country committee. It ended 1976 (when I was born). But the set theory stayed for about 1983, the year I started school. I think by then it was not solely that, but a combination of learning that way and other ways. I hear often people complain about how complicated it is, but for me it was always logical.

I think my class may have had other harder parts of the new maths taught at times too, because our teacher wanted us to have the harder maths book and always talked about how we are smart enough to do that... I liked his attitude and I liked maths. He made me believe I could learn anything in maths. Except geometry was hard for me, especially corners/ vertex. Now I really cannot understand why or what was hard in it for me. What made it hard. Did I just miss the lesson when we were taugh how to measure them and I was too afraid to ask and tried to figure it on my own. I have no idea.
 
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