My DD is in 3rd grade and is in the middle of what you're talking about. I guess it makes sense to me, though. At our school, they're getting a healthy dose of 'math facts' in addition to the 'new math' concepts, but I can see where they're going with the newer concepts.

Maybe I'm just the odd one out, though. As I was learning math, I always thought it was common sense type stuff - math is very cut and dried, it always makes sense, and it's always true to its own rules. I never understood why you would have to memorize 'math facts', because if you just do the math in your head, you have the answer. Does that make sense?

When we drill math facts by pure memorization, we're not teaching 'math', we're teaching memorization - the 'what', not the 'why'. It always seemed odd to me, because if you teach the 'why', the 'what' makes so much more sense... Math is about patterns and logic rules, and I can see where the new math education is trying to teach that. Learning to estimate is part of it - it gives a ballpark judgement to logically determine if the precise answer can be right, and is one step on the way to building better logical thinking.

JMHO, though. I've actually learned a little from DD's book - it's interesting to see how they approach topics, and I love that there are tons of word problems. To me, that's the real test - translating concepts into numbers and functions can really show if they understand what they're doing vs. just memorizing answers.

ETA: spelling correction