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Published: June 28, 2011

Greater Cleveland Mathematics Program (GCMP)

A system of teaching mathematics to elementary school children based on logic and abstract concepts rather than rote memorization of tables. More popularly called “NEW MATH,” GCMP was developed in 1959 by the Educational Research Council of Greater Cleveland for grades K–6, to serve as the foundation for the secondary school new math curriculum that had been developed earlier by the School Mathematics Study Group.
The underlying principle of new math was to teach young children mathematics the same way they learn language in infancy, by gradual accumulation of logical concepts. Based on theories of how primitive man may have developed mathematical concepts, GCMP eschewed rote learning of number tables in favor of the set theory. In simplest terms, primitive man could not read, write or count, but he could recognize the concept of equal sets and maintain tight inventory controls of, say, his herd of sheep. Thus, if he released his herd of sheep to graze, he could accumulate a set of pebbles on the ground, equating each pebble for each animal released and then removing each pebble at the end of the day for each sheep that returned. Despite his inability to count, the herdsman knew that an unretrieved pebble was equal to a missing sheep and that a set of pebbles had to equal a set of sheep.
Although of great interest to theoretical mathematicians, GCMP and the new math generally had to be modified radically and in many cases abandoned as it became clear from standardized tests that many children were growing up understanding set theories but unable to count or calculate accurately. New math concepts continue to be taught, but only in conjunction with (or after) traditional methods have provided students with a firm foundation in computational skills.

3 July 2011 15:33

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This is the system I used to teach my 3 yr old. She was advanced in math and went on to do very well in grasping concepts thru the years.
American teachers were too lazy (are?) to utilize new concepts. The so-called new math was the only way I could understand what was going on. Maybe my autistic inclinations, perhaps, but the rote method doesn't work for me. Asian methods and even British methods are so different from today's US educational methods of teaching math.