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New Math vs Old Math: A Detailed Explanation!

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New Math vs Old Math: A Detailed Explanation!
If you are constantly trying to wrap your head around your child's or younger sibling's math homework, trust me; you are not alone. We are all in the same boat. The new mathematics education has left the parents in chaos, especially during these days of hybrid and virtual learning.

The 'new math', also known as the 'Common Core Math', is something that people from the 80s and 90s didn't study, including me. Yes, we just learned the basics, but now in the new math, kids are learning everything in detail. For teaching math, it takes a lot of time for us to understand even the concepts of elementary school.

So, are you a millennial wanting to learn more about the evolution of the new math and how it differentiates from the old math? Don't worry; we have done the hard work for you! Below, we are going to describe the Common C0re Math / New Math in detail, what are its strategies, and its pros and cons. Now without making you wait any further, let's dive right in!

Where Did Common Core Math Come From?

As we have briefly mentioned above, learning and teaching arithmetic was different back in the 80s and 90s. All we had to do is learn basic math formulas, apply them, and solve questions in a simple way. However, Common Core Math was introduced in 2010, and this new math changed the standards of mathematics education. Here are the three main reasons why new math was introduced to this world:

  1. Common Core Math was introduced to provide high school students with the right set of mathematics skills required in post-secondary education and professional development.
  2. Improve math test scores for all mathematics students and develop an improved conceptual understanding.
  3. Improve the overall Math standards, state curriculum, and practices.
These were the goals defined for the Common Core Math, and there were additional eight mathematical practices designed to reach these goals. Let us take a look at those 8 practices now!

1. Try to make sense of all the problems and maintain a persevering pattern to solve them.

Students should start learning the exact meaning behind a problem and figure out possible entry points for its solution.

2. Give abstract and quantitative reasoning.

Students should also try to make sense of all the quantities, their relationships, and how to use them in the problem-solving process.

3. Model with mathematics.

Students should know to apply mathematics problems and concepts they have studied in their everyday, professional, and personal lives.

4. A need to construct arguments and evaluate the reasonings others give.

Mathematics students should thoroughly understand all the definitions, assumptions, and constructing arguments rather than just rote learning.

5. Strategically and appropriately use the tools.

Math students should be aware of all the tools and consider them all with critical thinking while solving problems.

6. Make sure to properly use and look for the structure.

Math students should properly know and recognize all the patterns and structures being used.

7. Attend to precision

Mathematics students should know how to communicate, think, and work precisely.

8. Make sure to show regularity in repeated reasoning.

Students proficient in mathematics should notice every repeated calculation and pattern. They should also look for logical shortcuts and general methods to remove the concerned problems.
All in all, the purpose of common core math was to take mathematics to an advanced level and engage students with the content while giving them more options to see. Moreover, new math gives students a chance to connect with the bigger picture of Math as they get done with the K-12 curriculum.

New Math vs Old Math - Difference Between Strategies

New math helps the students to build and develop improved conceptual thinking and understanding of how they are solving the questions and completing the procedures. In short, teachers and educators will teach the students more about the underlying concepts instead of rote learning, unlike the old math.

Let's take an example to differentiate between the two strategies; adding two-digit numbers with our old, millennial way was easy. All we had to do was put the numbers on top of each other, carry them if necessary, and solve the problem.

However, now students have to rearrange the numbers and think critically to solve a simple addition problem. For example, if we have to add 41 and 29, you will write 29 as 30, because 30 is a friendly number and a multiply of 10. You can also turn 41 to 40 because it is a friendly number again. In short, you are adding 1 to one digit and subtracting 1 from another to simplify the whole problem. However, in both forms of problems, the answer will be 40. It is just the strategy and process that became complex.

Another strategy for the new math is drawing pictures to visually represent the concepts. Dr. Rebecca Manis once stated "The goal is helping children move away from 'learning recipes' and more toward understanding how numbers and patterns work, For example, rather than teaching traditional two-digit multiplication, a teacher will often use methods such as the 'box method' or 'arrays.'"

Here is a video example of how new math uses drawing and illustrations:

New math also indulges students in critical thinking by focusing more on solving word problems. For example, students might get the questions asked to write a paragraph on what approaches and reasoning they might give to solve problems. With these questions, teachers engage students in critical thinking and theories more than just rote learning the formulas and solving questions.

All in all, the common core math prepares the students for real-world math and how they can apply mathematics in their professional and personal lives. However, the curriculum, syllabus, and topics are still the same.

Advantages & Disadvantages Of New Math

Now that you have gone through the differences and side by side comparison between the strategies of old and new math, it is time to go through some advantages and disadvantages of the common core math/new math. Read on!


  1. Common core state standards are benchmarked internationally. Therefore, implementing common core math will improve the ranking of your country when compared to other countries.
  2. Using common core math will help the teachers in developing and enhancing their professional skills. Also, all the teachers in this world will be teaching according to the same set of rules and standards. Not just for teachers but new math can improve the entire education community.
  3. The common core state standards assessments will help in covering multiple skills only in one question. Moreover, they can also improve their problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
  4. Common core state standards also allow the teachers to track the progress of students individually using a tool to monitor students. This thing will also stop the teachers to compare the children with other students.
  5. Common core state standards prefer using technology more. Therefore, students get a sense of independence by learning on their own. In short, students get a more independent career with CCSS.


  1. New Math / Common Core Math is comparatively more complex than the old math. Therefore, both teachers and students will require a lot of time to adjust to the methods of learning and teaching. Not just teachers and students, but parents who teach their children themselves will also have a hard time during the transition.
  2. Students will have to have a higher level of thinking skills, and they will certainly face a lot of challenges while learning the new mathematics.
  3. Common core math will require high-stakes testing, which will be a problem for both parents and students. These high stake tests are also the main source of tension and anxiety for kids.
  4. Many students and teachers complain that new core math can disrupt and kill creativity.
  5. Since new math is very new for parents and most millennials, parents complain that they can't help students with homework anymore due to a lack of understanding of new methods. Also, they complain that the number of word problems has increased drastically.

Helpful Resources For New Math

Since new math is very unfamiliar for both parents and students, and for some teachers too, individuals lookup for online resources to find as much help as they can. To give you a helping hand in wrapping your head around the new math methods and strategies, here is a list of reliable online resources for you:

Khan Academy
Khan Academy has tons of math videos and tutorials to help both students and teachers with different concepts. All of their tutorials and lessons are written by professional tutors and educators and are very detailed with each step shown.
My Tutor Source
My Tutor Source is an online tutoring platform with many math lessons on its blog by experienced educators and tutors. MTS also provides students with professional and private tutors and tutoring services from around the globe. They have certified math tutors on the blog with years of experience.
Math Playground
Math playground is an online platform that provides math games and stimulators for the students to play and enjoy. These games work as the best practice questions for students to understand a lot of concepts.
IXL Math
IXL math is also an online tutoring platform that contains practice exercises on every topic for students to master their skills in mathematics. Also, all the questions are usually interactive and fun for the students to enjoy and solve without getting bored.
NCTM's Illuminations
This online platform has games and lessons related to math with each step clearly shown and in detail.


Now that you have gone through the entire post, we hope the concept of new math vs old math, their meanings, and the difference between their strategies are clear in your mind. 
This change in math strategies is kind of new and difficult to adjust, but certainly not too bad. The change is only in the way students are studying, not the curriculum or syllabus. Moreover, these new strategies also have some clear benefits for students; it helps develop problem-solving skills and critical thinking in students.

The only problem is for millennial parents who can't teach their children mathematics now. So, we would suggest parents opt for online learning resources as we mentioned above; Khan Academy, MTS, NCTM's Illuminations, IXL Math, and Math Playground. Moreover, you can also hire private math tutors to help your kids.

At MTS, we have a team of professional and private math tutors to assist the students with every problem they have in the subject. Our tutors will clear all the concepts for your kids with their expertise. So, what are you waiting for? Go to our website and find a tutor that suits the best to your needs. Your private tutor is just a click away!

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Austin has 10+ years of experience in teaching. He has researched on thousands of students-related topics, issues, and concerns. You will often find him writing about the common concerns of students, their nutrition, and what is beneficial for their academics and health both.