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The New Math – A Political History - Chicago Scholarship Online
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The New Math: A Political History

Christopher J. Phillips


The new math changed the way Americans think about mathematics. The mathematicians and teachers who designed the novel and controversial curriculum in the late 1950s--generously supported by the National Science Foundation--believed that citizens in modern society needed to learn “modern” mathematics. New math’s proponents wanted to present mathematics as an abstract, and highly structured, system of knowledge, not as a set of computational facts or rules. The curriculum’s significance extended far beyond the math classroom, however. Its supporters desired nothing less than reforming American ... More

Keywords: new math, National Science Foundation, School Mathematics Study Group, history of science, American political history, mathematics curriculum, curriculum reform, mental habits, intellectual discipline, Cold War

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2014 Print ISBN-13: 9780226184968
Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2015 DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226185019.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Christopher J. Phillips, author
Gallatin School of Individualized Study, New York University