Lyrics:

Some of you who have small children may have perhaps been put in the
embarrassing position of being unable to do your child's arithmetic
homework because of the current revolution in mathematics teaching known
as the New Math. So as a public service here tonight, I thought I would
offer a brief lesson in the New Math. Tonight, we're gonna cover
subtraction.

This is the first room I've worked for a while that didn't have a
blackboard, so we will have to make do with more primitive visual aids, as
they say in the ed biz. Consider the following subtraction problem, which
I will put up here: 342 minus 173. Now, remember how we used to do that:
three from two is nine, carry the one, and if you're under thirty five or
went to a private school you say seven from three is six, but if you're
over thirty five and went to a public school you say eight from four is
six. And carry the one, so you have one hundred and sixty nine. But in
the new approach, as you know, the important thing is to understand what
you're doing, rather than to get the right answer.

Here's how they do it now

You can't take three from two

Two is less than three

So you look at the four in the tens place

Now that's really four tens

So you make it three tens

Regroup, and you change a ten to ten ones

And you add 'em to the two and get twelve

And you take away three, that's nine

Is that clear

Now instead of four in the tens place

You've got three

'Cause you added one

That is to say, ten, to the two

But you can't take seven from three

So you look in the hundreds place

From the three you then use one

To make ten ones

And you know why four plus minus one plus ten is fourteen minus one

'Cause addition is commutative, right

And so you've got thirteen tens

And you take away seven

And that leaves five

Well, six actually

But the idea is the important thing

Now go back to the hundreds place

You're left with two

And you take away one from two

And that leaves

Everybody get one

Not bad for the first day

Hooray for New Math

New Math

It won't do you a bit of good to review math

It's so simple, so very simple

That only a child can do it

Now, that actually is not the answer that I had in mind

Because the book that I got this problem out of

Wants you to do it in base eight

But don't panic

Base eight is just like base ten really

If you're missing two fingers

Shall we have a go at it

Hang on

You can't take three from two

Two is less than three

So you look at the four in the eights place

Now that's really four eights

So you make it three eights

Regroup, and you change an eight to eight ones

And you add 'em to the two

And you get one-two base eight

Which is ten base ten

And you take away three, that's seven

Ok

Now instead of four in the eights place

You've got three

'Cause you added one

That is to say, eight, to the two

But you can't take seven from three

So you look at the sixty-fours

Sixty-four?

How did sixty-four get into it

I hear you cry

Well, sixty-four is eight squared, don't you see

Well, you ask a silly question, you get a silly answer

From the three you then use one

To make eight ones

You add those ones to the three

And you get one-three base eight

Or, in other words

In base ten you have eleven

And you take away seven

And seven from eleven is four

Now go back to the sixty-fours

You're left with two

And you take away one from two

And that leaves

Now, let's not always see the same hands

One, that's right

Whoever got one can stay after the show and clean the erasers

Hooray for New Math

New Math

It won't do you a bit of good to review math

It's so simple, so very simple

That only a child can do it

Come back tomorrow night

We're gonna do fractions

Y'know, I've often thought I'd like to write a mathematics textbook someday

Because I have a title that I know will sell a million copies

I'm gonna call it Tropic of Calculus

*New Math is the tenth (10th) song on the That Was The Year That
Was album and is the tenth (10th) song on disc three of the Remains Of
Tom Lehrer album. It is an original song by Tom Lehrer.*

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