fuzzy math
n. Mathematics education that de-emphasizes memorization and rote learning in favor of a cooperative approach to solving problems.
Just as the teaching of reading has been devastated by series of mindless fads like "whole language," the teaching of arithmetic is impeded by fads like "fuzzy math" and the use of calculators before children have mastered computational skills.
—John Silber, “First of all, let's emphasize basic learning,” The Boston Herald, February 07, 2000
A method that disdains the notion of adults hierarchically imparting knowledge to kids, integrated math does not require students to memorize multiplication tables, compute fractions or learn other basic skills essential to algebraic success. It's often rightly derided as 'fuzzy math' because of its murky goals, which include, according to one popular integrated math program, 'linking past experience to new concepts, sharing ideas and developing concept readiness through hands-on explorations.'
—“Old Math, Good Math,” Los Angeles Times, January 29, 2000
1994 (earliest)
Calling the constructivist approach "fuzzy math," Maureen DiMarco, secretary of child development and education for California Gov. Peter Wilson, agreed: "We need to have multiple approaches. You can't get to the higher order thinking skills if you don't know basics."
—Alex Pham, “California math rush,” The Boston Globe, November 09, 1994
This new approach to teaching math first appeared in the late 80s, and it didn't take long for the various names applied to it to split into two camps. Those in favor of the new methodology called it constructivist, integrated math, whole math, or new new math. Those opposed labeled it fuzzy math (which first appeared in 1994), Mickey Mouse math, math lite, or algebra lite.
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