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When I was in Page, Arizona last summer, I drove into the residential district and discovered 8th Avenue, the “Street of the Little Motels.”
That is where I saw this sign. I knew that it had to be important in the grand scheme of things!
It reminded me of “New Math.”
WHO REMEMBERS New Math?
If you are 55 or older, you probably do.
New Math was introduced in response to Soviet engineering. The “Sputnik crisis” supposedly proved that America was falling behind in mathematics.
[“Sputnik” was the name of the Soviet satellite placed into orbit in 1957, long before the U.S. was ready to place its own satellite into orbit.]
New Math focused on a number of bases (other than ten), set theory, diagrams, functions, and matrices, to say nothing of algebraic inequalities and abstractions. Everyone would soon know that 4 + 4 = 10 in the base of 8.
I was caught in the vortex. In high school, I took something called “trig functions” my junior year and “matrix functions” my senior year. With all due respect, these courses proved to be of no value to me in the last 45 years.
Unfortunately, New Math introduced New Problems, namely, teachers that couldn’t teach it and parents that didn’t understand it.
By the end of the 1960s, New Math was kaput. One professor put it this way: “New Math produced students who had heard of the commutative law, but did not know the multiplication table.”
And, we still beat the Russians to the moon!
I am linking Tom Lehrer’s “New Math.” It’s not gibberish, believe it or not. As they say, “do the math!”
As always, thanks for stopping by!
Also by Richard Knight
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