Anchorrising picked up a story on new math. What I consider a weakness, the advocate of new math suggests is its strength.

One problem, [Pat Cooney, math coordinator for six public schools in Ridgefield, CT,] says, is that parents remember math as offering only one way to solve a problem. “We’re saying that there’s more than one way,” Cooney says. “The outcome will be the same, but how we get there will be different.” Thus, when a parent is asked to multiply 88 by 5, we’ll do it with pen and paper, multiplying 8 by 5 and carrying over the 4, etc. But a child today might reason that 5 is half of 10, and 88 times 10 is 880, so 88 times 5 is half of that, 440 — poof, no pen, no paper.”The traditional way is really a shortcut,” Cooney says. “We want kids to be so confident with numbers that it becomes intuitive.”

The problem is when an equation isn’t that simple, say with larger or fractional numbers. The “traditional way” provides a foundation from which to build the more “intuitive” methods – not the reverse.