The Early Republic
The Cold War

In the late 1950s, seeing booming school enrollments and a threat
from advanced Soviet technology, U.S. mathematicians, scientists, and
educators developed new approaches to teaching math 

The “New Math,” as it was called, placed much more emphasis on learning mathematical principles than on mastering practical business applications of math. Students were exposed to set theory and other ideas, both in the classroom and through games like this one. Students in this Illinois school (below; left) used Cuisenaire rods and the timehonored blackboard. They also learned about the properties of whole numbers using a number line, the long strip of paper fastened above the blackboard. 


During the 1960s, desktop electronic calculators made it possible to perform routine calculations by machine in the laboratory and the office. In the 1970s, with the introduction of microprocessors, handheld electronic calculators came on the market. They now replaced the slide rule on the belts of advanced students. Simpler calculators soon sold as educational toys. 
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