I’ve told this story before on other forums, so at least two of you will be bored more than others, but I’ll just lay it off to incipient senility (In a few years, I’ll be an old man.) Back in the early ’70s, three of my kids were in the early grades in (‘shamed to admit it … the Public Fool System) and the youngest had yet to start. but the news was full of “The New Math,” and all the grief students were having with learning it, and and teachers with teaching it.
To minimize that grief in my family, I diverted my night school studies from engineering math to a semester course in New Math for Teachers. I really needn’t have bothered — it was just The Old Math, explained confusingly in set theory notation, a BFD, if there ever was one. But I did learn … a lot … about the general level of intelligence and comprehension of PFS teachers.
I was the only “outsider” in the class. About half the class was already employed as teachers. The other half was prospective teachers, hacking out their prereqs. At least a third of the class couldn’t fully comprehend a square root. Another third muddled through, and the last third actually understood the subject matter — all in all, not a confidence builder. Other than the opportunity to peer into the PFS, it was a total waste of a semester, since my kids never had to learn The New Math. At least I finally understood why so many teachers hardly ever wanted to answer student requests for more info — they didn’t know any more.
Aside from often lackluster presentation, PFS curricula, nationwide, have been deliberately impoverished. An ambitious and interested student could master the meager ration of academic learning that these days, passes for a high school education, in at least three fewer years, if he/she weren’t compelled to slow down and drag it out, for all the future baristas.(and teachers.)