Time to take away students' calculators
The Argus, CA - Sep 16, 2006
That's the message from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, which issued a much-anticipated study Tuesday that urged a return to the basics in ...
the article is no longer available, so i can't read what it says, but in general i agree. students are being spoiled by their calculators. at my school, a lot of courses ban calculators, including college algebra, precalculus, calculus 1,2,and 3. and i think that's good.
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It's important that students understand how to perform calculations without a calculator but to insist they are never used is just plain daft.
They are a vital tool.
When you are trying to test someone's ability to perform complex root analysis of polynomial equations, is it really vital that the final numerical value is done by hand?
This is as daft as the person who stated that spelling errors in Physics tests should result in lost marks.
Tell you what, if and when I have major heart surgery, I'll be more than happy if the surgeon can't decide whether to spell it as "their" or "there" as long as he knows how to operate and I suspect you'd be the same.
To equate spelling with technical understanding really beggars belief and I seriously expect you are on a wind up here.
their ideas clearly without ambiguity. If you cannot you have no place in
these areas of endeavour.
When I interview job candidates one of the major selection criteria after
technical competence is ability to communicate clearly (in fact the former
cannot be demonstrated without the latter).
Of course the standards applied are not those applied to a journalist or
novelist, but they do exist. Also they can be realised (at least to my satisfaction)
by anyone if they make an effort (I am dyslexic myself and can manage clarity
of communication - at least to my satisfaction).
In fact I know this is wrong because I am an engineer myself and have worked with many good people who could neither spell or explain ideas properly. It's very frustrating sometimes but it's obviously not as vital as technical ability as you say.
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.
No, a surgeon doesn't need to know spelling or correct grammar to succesfully operate on a patient. But I'll bet he/she had to know it in order to learn the procedure in the first place. I understand that you feel grading language skills in, say, the Physical Sciences is unfair. Frankly a lot of students do. I also know that I'm not likely to convince you otherwise, so I'm not going to try any more. All the relevant points have already been made. Just tuck this conversation in your memory somewhere. You may change your mind about it when you get further on in your career.