Teaching: The Trials of New Math

On their first day in second grade, 200 Urbana, Ill. schoolchildren were told to add 19 and 3. None got it; a large and desperate proportion of them answered "112," apparently thinking "' plus 3 is 12, carry 1 and bring down 1." The kids were then asked how many cookies they would own if, having 19, they were given 3 more. Nearly every child said "22."

Old math is rote learning of unexplained rules ("carrying," for instance); new math tries to cut away mystery by making computation seem real, open and understandable. New math is here to stay. But,...

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