Is Singapore Math the New Math?

June 25, 2010 at 2:26 am Leave a comment

A lot of debate about mathematics instruction divides teachers into two camps: “traditional” versus “reform.” The “math wars” began in 1989 with NCTM’s release of its standards, and the debate continues (here) though I suspect that most people are really more in the middle.

I recently came across a video of Tom Lehrer singing  about the “New Math” that was introduced in the 1960’s. Wikipedia says the song was “intended to poke fun at the kind of bafflement the New Math approach often evoked when apparently simple calculations were presented in a very general manner which, while mathematically correct and arguably trivial for mathematicians, was likely very confusing to absolute beginners and even contemporary adult audiences.”

I find it striking because the math that was so frustrating for parents in the sixties seems absolutely reasonable now. It makes me think that maybe we need to be a little more open to different ways of teaching and learning. Maybe in forty years, the “new math” that spurs so much debate today will be a part of our collective understanding.


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Keep it simple. Students inspiring themselves…

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