Friday, May 9, 2014

A musical introduction to the old "new math"

The commonality between the current education reform movement and the Post-Sputnik era have been mentioned before. Among other similarities, both movements prided themselves on taking a rigorously scientific approach to education and yet some of their sharpest critics were the very scientists and mathematicians they were trying to emulate.

We've already talked about Richard P. Feynman's criticism of Post-Sputnik era math and science textbooks, particularly their attempts to be rigorous and realistic. Along similar lines, Tom Lehrer, who was either teaching math at Harvard or political science at MIT (depending on exactly when the song came out), had a great deal of fun with the topic in the song "New Math."

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