After some research on the recent history of math education in the U.S., from the new math movement to the beginning of the 21st century, I understood that the historic flow of the math education paradigm was something like this:
- during the cold war, the new math movement brought abstract and formal ideas to early years seeking to improve scientific education to compete with the eastern block.(60s-mid 70s)
- Hard criticism on the new math movement brought back a new and more radical version of constructivism (mid 70s-80s)
- Opposition from mathematicians and parents brought back a discussion on the effectiveness of constructivism, in face of a decreasing performance on basic math skills. No consensus exists on whether to trust on constructivism or traditional (pre-new math and pre-old constructivism) methods of math teaching.(90s-early 00's)
I'm from Latin America and making contact with local math education history experts to confirm a similar trend on my country. Thinking of the cold war as a pivot event for this flow of the math teaching paradigm on the U.S., I ask: was this movement (new math, constructivism, revival of traditional ideas) a trend on the western block of U.S. aligned countries during that period?
Here in Brazil we have lots of material on new math from the 60's and the 70's, and from the early 90's to today the federal government supports a more constructivist approach when setting the standards for national education.