How Math Teaching Has Changed
(or Why Students Can't Add or Subtract)

This came my way by photocopied e-mail a few years ago, and it always makes me chuckle.  You may find it frighteningly close to the truth...

Take a simple math problem, subject it to 30 years of new, improved teaching methods, and deduce the formula to yield our average yearly drop in SAT scores.

 IN 1960: "A logger sells a truckload of lumber for \$100.  His cost of production is 4/5 of this price. What is his profit?" IN 1970: (traditional math): "A logger sells a truckload of lumber for \$100.  His cost of production is 4/5 of this price; in other words, \$80.  What is his profit?" IN 1970: ("New Math"): "A logger exchanges a set L of lumber for a set M of money.  The cardinality of set M is 100, and each element is worth \$1.  Make one hundred dots representing the elements of the set M.  The set C of costs of production contains 20 fewer points than set M. Represent the set C as a subset of M, and answer the following question: What is the cardinality of the set P of profits?" IN 1980: "A logger sells a truckload of wood for \$100.  His cost of production is \$80, and his profit is \$20.  Your assignment is to underline the number 20." IN 1990: "By cutting down beautiful forest trees, a logger makes \$20.  What do you think of this way of making money?  Topic for class participation:  How did the forest birds and squirrels feel?"