The School Mathematics Study Group: Lessons in Mathematics Education

Madeline Polhill

This work argues that the "new math" project called the School Mathematics Study Group offers a valuable case study for mathematics educators seeking to venture into the future better informed about both the successes and failures of previous projects. Understanding this project requires recognizing that the School Mathematics Study Group was wholly a product of the forces--personal, educational, mathematical, and political--that shaped it. Admittedly, some of the SMSG's shortcomings resulted from its members' lack of understanding of the changes needed in mathematics education. Still, the majority of the SMSG's public vilification resulted through no fault of its own, but rather from shifts and unrest in the very forces that shaped the organization. With the benefit of nearly half a century of hindsight, this project aims to draw from the work of the School Mathematics Study Group with an eye towards identifying meaningful lessons for mathematics educators today.




Della Dumbaugh