The blog entry I mentioned in my previous post had this line that caught my attention:

“[NCLB] is particularly destructive to bright young math students.”

I’m assuming this consequence is partly due to the Reform Math taught in many public highschools in the US.

Like the NCLB, Reform Math started out from good intentions. Its goal is for all students to “learn to value mathematics” and “have numerous and varied experiences related to the cultural, historical, and scientific evolution of mathematics so that they can appreciate the role of mathematics in the development of our contemporary society.”

However, Reform Math seems to be committing the same mistakes as the New Math of the 1960s. The focus on abstract concepts and “mathematical thinking” at the expense of basic arithmetic, though essential for highschool and univ. students who are interested in more advanced mathematics, seems to be too much for young kids to handle.

In fact, some schools in the US are turning to other more “traditional” math syllabuses, one of which is (surprise surprise) Singapore Math!

Remember these?

A rather amusing line from the wikipedia article about Singapore Math:

“Most U.S. parents are likely to be familiar with the traditional mathematics presented in a typical Singapore math book. By contrast, many reform texts which follow NCTM recommendations cover advanced topics such as algebra and statistics, which makes some parents feel inadequate. “

I don’t doubt that algebra and statistics are important, but surely feeding them to any ordinary student under 10 is like giving wine to kids? It’s too strong for their system and it makes them lose their footing. Let them learn how to consume grape juice first. (And I strongly believe that good mathematics, like good wine, is an acquired taste)

To end off, here’s a funny video featuring someone lip-syncing Tom Lehrer’s New Math:

(this guy lip-syncs Tom Lehrer’s The Elements too!)

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