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Where's the Evidence?

Jeremy Kilpatrick 

July 2001, Volume 32, Issue 4, Page 421

Abstract:
During the last half century, school mathematics in North America has undergone two major waves of attempted reform: the new math movement of the 1950s through the early 1970s and the standards-based movement of the past two decades or so. Although differing sharply in their approach to curriculum content, these reform efforts have shared the aim of making mathematics learning more substantial and engaging for students. The rhetoric surrounding the more recent movement, however, has been much more shrill, the policy differences more sharply drawn, the participants more diverse. The so-called math wars of the 1960s (DeMott, 1962, ch. 9) were largely civil wars. They pitted advocates of rigor and axiomatics against those promoting applied, genetic approaches and were conducted primarily in journal articles and at professional meetings. Today's warfare ranges outside the profession and has a more strident tone; it is much less civil in both senses of the word.