When I was growing up, every time a kid did something that the previous generation didn’t understand, a parent or grandparent would blame it on “the new math.” We’d come home from school to find our parents unable to help us with our homework. They didn’t understand it, nor did they understand the way we were thinking or behaving in general, so they connected the dots and decided it was the “new math” that made us indecipherable.
Even my father would say it. Which shows you how pervasive the belief was, as he never really had a grasp on “the old math.” The Great Depression hit right before he went into 6th grade and he had to quit school to work for his family. When I went from feathered Farrah hair to preppy Peter-pan collars with a ribbon bow, to Punk rock safety pins in my ears, he greeted each new style with “I don’t get it. Must be that new math.”
It never made sense to me when I was young(er)–note, I held back from the bad pun of “it didn’t add up to me”–but now I think I’m beginning to understand.
Because my kids are doing the new, new math. And now I suspect suspect there is a sadistic, secret math society at work continually creating a gap between every generation.
Do you remember the kids who went to school dances with pens in their pockets or who would sneer at the rest of us for not being able to do calculus problems in our heads? Well, not all of them went to work with Microsoft.
I believe the most bitter of the bunch are now getting even with us for not letting them hang out with us, the cooler kids. They are rubbing it in our faces for making them social outcasts by ensuring our children will rebel against everything we tell them.
How are they doing it? By creating a new, ridiculous math curriculum for each new generation of kids.
Let me tell ya, when your sarcastic, yet sweet, eight-year-old comes to you for help on her math, and you can’t help her, you look like an idiot. It doesn’t matter that you’re a college graduate. It doesn’t matter if you’re a successful business person. She might smile at you, but in her head you know she’s thinking “Ugh! God! My mom is such a dweeb! And my dad! It’s so embarrassing!”
And suddenly there’s one more item on her list of reasons not to trust or respect you. The deck is so stacked against us.