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The New MathA Political History$
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Christopher J. Phillips

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226184968

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226185019.001.0001

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The Subject in Itself

The Subject in Itself

Arithmetic as Knowledge

Chapter:
(p.75) Chapter Four The Subject in Itself
Source:
The New Math
Author(s):

Christopher J. Phillips

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226185019.003.0004

During an era when the characteristics of “free” minds were opposed to those of “Soviet” or “closed” minds, it mattered how students learned to add. School Mathematics Study Group writers believed the acquisition of computing ability should train students to acquire certain and reliable knowledge for themselves, without recourse to authority. The new math’s promoters claimed an emphasis on memorized facts and rote processes was cultivating undesirable mental habits in students. The new math approach claimed to be more appropriate, philosophically and psychologically. The now infamous introduction of set theoretic notation into elementary textbooks, for example, emerged from an attempt to refashion the ideology of elementary arithmetic. Students who learned the new math would supposedly learn how to acquire reliable knowledge generally.

Keywords:   School Mathematics Study Group, new math, mental habits, arithmetic, philosophy, psychology

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