# Thread: Time to take away students' calculators - The Argus

1. Originally Posted by oaksoft
It's interesting you mention engineering. Engineering (particularly IT) is full of unnecessary jargon which by definition excludes people from understanding it. Used to drive me up the wall.
Who is to say it's unnecessary?

RonL

2. Originally Posted by CaptainBlack
Who is to say it's unnecessary?

RonL
I guess the only way to answer this is to start with a definition of unnecessary.

Jargon is unnecessary if the thing being described can be easily and effiiciently described in layman's terms.

Firstly, I can't claim any sort of authority on this unless I explain my credentials. This is usually not something I like doing because it's usually done to show off and that is something I can't stand. Unfortunately, I need to explain WHY I am qualified to make any sort of judgment on this.
I have solid Engineering Honours degree from 20 years ago and I am currently going back over some of my maths hence I am on this site for some info from time to time.
I have over 16 years of commercial engineering experience most of which has been as a Software Designer. My employee/client list has included some of the biggest and most prestigious companies in the world including the world renowned IBM Research Facility in England and Motorola. As well as being involved in Software Design (mostly embedded software) I have had technical authority over other designers in both companies listed above.
I have also ran my own recruitment firm and have interviewed and recruited engineers.
I also spent a few years Freelancing to earn more money.

OK so when it comes to having an opinion on software and IT in particular I believe I am speaking from some professional and commercial experience rather than as a 19 year old "read a book and think I know it all" weekend hobbyist.

Jargon in both fields is sometimes necessary and sometimes it has been introduced deliberately to block others from accessing the knowledge. This is regularly done to:-

1)Boost the image of the person doing it because they look like experts to the untrained eye.

2)Boost their job security by making them look irreplaceable.

Part of what I used to do was identify such people and weed them out. My "kill list" on this is pretty depressingly impressive.

For some proof of this, have a dispassionate look at some of the words and phrases used in IT.
How many of them seem "Sexed up"?
I use the expression "Trekkied up" sometimes to mean the same thing because it amply illustrates the common (but not exclusive) type of person who works in that field.

For final proof, simply find a decent engineer and actually ask him yourself. A decent engineer is a decent engineer and doesn't need jargon to confuse others.

Hope that explains my point.

3. Originally Posted by oaksoft
I guess the only way to answer this is to start with a definition of unnecessary.

Jargon is unnecessary if the thing being described can be easily and effiiciently described in layman's terms.

Firstly, I can't claim any sort of authority on this unless I explain my credentials. This is usually not something I like doing because it's usually done to show off and that is something I can't stand. Unfortunately, I need to explain WHY I am qualified to make any sort of judgment on this.
I have solid Engineering Honours degree from 20 years ago and I am currently going back over some of my maths hence I am on this site for some info from time to time.
I have over 16 years of commercial engineering experience most of which has been as a Software Designer. My employee/client list has included some of the biggest and most prestigious companies in the world including the world renowned IBM Research Facility in England and Motorola. As well as being involved in Software Design (mostly embedded software) I have had technical authority over other designers in both companies listed above.
I have also ran my own recruitment firm and have interviewed and recruited engineers.
I also spent a few years Freelancing to earn more money.

OK so when it comes to having an opinion on software and IT in particular I believe I am speaking from some professional and commercial experience rather than as a 19 year old "read a book and think I know it all" weekend hobbyist.

Jargon in both fields is sometimes necessary and sometimes it has been introduced deliberately to block others from accessing the knowledge. This is regularly done to:-

1)Boost the image of the person doing it because they look like experts to the untrained eye.

2)Boost their job security by making them look irreplaceable.

Part of what I used to do was identify such people and weed them out. My "kill list" on this is pretty depressingly impressive.

For some proof of this, have a dispassionate look at some of the words and phrases used in IT.
How many of them seem "Sexed up"?
I use the expression "Trekkied up" sometimes to mean the same thing because it amply illustrates the common (but not exclusive) type of person who works in that field.

For final proof, simply find a decent engineer and actually ask him yourself. A decent engineer is a decent engineer and doesn't need jargon to confuse others.

Hope that explains my point.
Why not give us some examples?

RonL

4. Originally Posted by oaksoft
It's important that students understand how to perform calculations without a calculator ....
I like how the topic went sideways

Anyways i'm still in hs, and want to be prepared. Could somone expand on what kind of calculations.

5. Originally Posted by Raj
I like how the topic went sideways

Anyways i'm still in hs, and want to be prepared. Could somone expand on what kind of calculations.
Multiplication and division are critical (and unmastered by US HS students in general). Soling linear equations, solving quadratic equations, and graphing linear and quadratic functions are up there as well. Not to mention knowing the values of trig functions for angles 0, 30, 45, 60, and 90 degrees.

That's a condensed list, but I'd be happy to see the Freshman college student who can do all of those enter my College Algebra or Physics I classroom on the first day.

-Dan

6. My Discrete Mathematics professor is Asian, with a very noticeable accent, and occasional obvious grammatical errors. Still, he knows the material inside and out (almost never errs in the classroom, knows exactly what he is going to cover each day, and doesn't need notes or the book to teach it, etc).

In this case, I would say that the communication barrier is frustrating, because teaching is an act of communication. However, in a non communication oriented position, I think he would quickly excel, as his grasp of the material is exceptional.

7. I agree. Professors who rely on notes or the book aren't great at teaching (and it shows that they do not know the material inside and out). Why bother going to class then if they are just reading their notes or the textbook?

8. Originally Posted by shilz222
I agree. Professors who rely on notes or the book aren't great at teaching (and it shows that they do not know the material inside and out). Why bother going to class then if they are just reading their notes or the textbook?
I beg to differ. I use my notes (though not usually the text) extensively to make sure I'm not making simple errors or going off track. Both of these extremely easy mistakes to make when up at the chalkboard. This is not to say that I do not have mastery of the material I'm teaching, I just think it is good common sense to make sure that I am communicating it effectively and not having to back up and correct mistakes, or wander off topic.

Some of my worst teachers never referred to notes. (Though I admit one of my best never did, either.)

-Dan

9. I only brought that up as an example of how thoroughly this professor knows the material. The communication barrier was mostly due to English being his second language, so in this case, I think that "grammar" hinders his effectiveness, because instruction is an act of communication. But in general, I do not think that grammar is necessary for a technical person, because knowing how to do math/surgery/whatever is not based on how well you know the English language.

Of course, my professor has a good excuse, he's foreign, placing him at a disadvantage in learning the English language, but not in learning mathematics. If someone from an English speaking country had noticeably poor grammar, it might actually mean something, because if you can't/won't even master your own language, that implies they are either lazy or inept. And either of these qualities would greatly impede learning technical skills like engineering or medicine.

10. My view on things,

Original Topic discussion: Calculators should be banned in some aspects. I sit there in class sometimes and have people typing $\displaystyle e^0$ in their calculators which i have to admit is a bit ridiculous.

Discussion on Grammar: I agree Grammar is important for people to demonstrate their ideas clearly especially if they're advancing into an area where they will be working within or instructing a team.

11. For goodness sake, this is the 21st century. Calculators are a part of the

culture and technology. Calculators will be can be used.

For those purists and anachronistic individuals who refuse to come into the 21st century.....straighten up. That's the way it is.

I love and have a passion for mathematics. I wouldn't be here if I didn't.

But, I also realize that technology is a part of our culture now. Get with the program. There it is, rather you like it or not.

Whe it comes to pure math, of course, let's do the 'non-calculator thing'. I like it that way for pure math. When it comes down to it, that's the only way to go; Technology isn't programmed to handle it, for the most part.

But, in the real world, when one is in a professional setting and needs to find the answer to a complicated algorithm/equation/whatever, then use the tech.

i.e. I surveyed for years(construction and property). When I wanted to find the area of a tract of land or calculate the deflection of a curve, I did not calculate it piece by piece the long way......I used tech(sometimes I did it the old-fashioned way).

Another thing cool in the highway/bridge building field is spiral curves.

The radius of a spiral curve is infinite at the beginning, but is equal to the radius of the circular curve where it joins the circular curve.

If anyone would like to know more about the way highway curves are constructed, both horizontal and vertical, let me know. It's interesting.

i.e. When you drive around the curve of a road or go in a 'dip' or over a 'hill', there is a way it is constructed. Though, everyone takes it for granted.

Vertical curves are constructed using parabolas and horizontal curves are constructed using geometry. Spiral curves are another matter. They were devised originally to build railroads.

12. Originally Posted by galactus
Whe it comes to pure math, of course, let's do the 'non-calculator thing'. I like it that way for pure math. When it comes down to it, that's the only way to go; Technology isn't programmed to handle it, for the most part.

But, in the real world, when one is in a professional setting and needs to find the answer to a complicated algorithm/equation/whatever, then use the tech.
It does not seem that anybody is talking against your first paragraph. In pure math it is part of the essense of it. And also computers do not really help with proofs.

However, for computational purposes I have no problem.

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