Book Review: A Review of The New Math: A Political History

Author: James Fey 1
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  • 1 University of Maryland

For mathematics educators of a certain age or those with particular expertise in the history of mathematics education, the appearance of a book that purports to describe, analyze, and explain the “new math” movement of the 1950s and 1960s quite reasonably prompts the question: What else could possibly be said about that iconic era? Others with less experience in or historical knowledge of the field might pass on the book because they are only vaguely aware of the new math as a longago and thoroughly discredited effort to reform school mathematics curricula and teaching. However, I think mathematics educators in both groups–knowledgeable veterans and newcomers to the field–will find Christopher J. Phillips's retelling of the new math story a fascinating read that is filled with timeless insights into the academic and political dynamics of school mathematics and, more broadly, American education.

Journal for Research in Mathematics Education


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