“THAT MUCH-MALIGNED MONSTER – NEW MATH:” AN EXAMINATION OF TEACHER PREPAREDNESS AND TRAINING IN THE ERA OF NEW MATH, 1950 TO 1975
1 online resource (140 pages) : PDF
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Education reform is a continuous cycle. The cyclical nature of American mathematics education reform began in the 1950s, during the height of the Cold War. After the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the American government felt education, specifically math and science, needed updating and revamping. As a result, the 1950s and 1960s witnessed a surge in federal funding for mathematics education reform. The revised mathematics, known as New Math, emphasized conceptual learning over rote memorization and computation. During the development of New Math curriculum writing groups and government backed organizations, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), realized that American math teachers lacked adequate preparation and education. Some teachers never took a college-level mathematics course before graduating and transitioning into the classroom. As a result, New Math became difficult to implement causing organizations, like the NSF, to promote large-scale national training. The NSF developed various Institutes to train teachers across the country. Other national and local efforts emerged, specifically via televised course instruction, such as the Continental Classroom. Ultimately, national and local training efforts reached more high school teachers and left elementary teachers struggling to understand strange and advanced mathematics. New Math gained the support of the federal government, schools, and the public by promising to create students capable of outpacing their Soviet counterparts. However, New Math teacher training and support declined during the 1970s. Teacher inadequacy, low test scores, declining student computation ability, parent and teacher frustration, as well as both domestic and international crises contributed to the failure of New Math. By 1975 New Math concluded by giving way to the back-to-basics reform, the first of many subsequent mathematics reforms that continued throughout the twentieth and twenty-first century.
Wilson, MarkJohnson, David
Thesis (M.A.)--University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 2016.
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