The New Math
A Political History
In this history, Christopher J. Phillips examines the rise and fall of the new math as a marker of the period’s political and social ferment. Neither the new math curriculum designers nor its diverse legions of supporters concentrated on whether the new math would improve students’ calculation ability. Rather, they felt the new math would train children to think in the right way, instilling in students a set of mental habits that might better prepare them to be citizens of modern society—a world of complex challenges, rapid technological change, and unforeseeable futures. While Phillips grounds his argument in shifting perceptions of intellectual discipline and the underlying nature of mathematical knowledge, he also touches on long-standing debates over the place and relevance of mathematics in liberal education. And in so doing, he explores the essence of what it means to be an intelligent American—by the numbers.
Chapter 2. The Subject and the State: The Origins of the New Math
Chapter 3. The Textbook Subject: Mathematicians and the New Math
Chapter 4. The Subject in Itself: Arithmetic as Knowledge
Chapter 5. The Subject in the Classroom: The Selling of the New Math
Chapter 6. The Basic Subject: New Math and Its Discontents