Why New Math?

A friend sent this video to me on the weekend. It is six minutes on why new math matters.

I admit, there are times when I have wondered (translation, doubted) the value of new math being taught to my elementary school-aged student. I’m a rather involved parent. I like to do homework with him. I like to know what he is learning, even if he is getting it all correct.

This video is about more than math. It is about developing the ability to think conceptually. Creatively. And that applies to working with groups, yes. And, the narrative is a good challenge to the primary story of math education — efficacy and speed. Oops, there is it is again, a cultural story that is about a lot more than math.

There have been moments when I, relying on my “old school” math, wonder what my 10 year-old is thinking and why it is taking him so long. Dr. Raj Shah of the Math Plus Academy offers a good description of what I sometimes describe as the need to slow down (so that you can speed up, or, er…, not).

Conceptual and critical thinking isn’t about moving through things as quickly as possible. It’s good to have that ability, when needed. But critical thinking is called for in more and more of the complex environments we find ourselves in. The ability to see alternative conceptual frameworks — oh yea, that’s good.

I love it that this video works with a simple equation, 45 x 24, to show some of this.


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