
Re: A further response to posting on Calculator Use
Posted:
Aug 31, 2013 11:32 PM



On Aug 31, 2013, at 7:11 PM, Jerry Becker <jbecker@SIU.EDU> wrote:
> The limitations in the usefulness of computers in assessing mathematics is ironic because computers are central to doing mathematics outside the classroom in everything from simple business calculations to research in many subjects, including pure mathematics. This is not yet reflected in schools where computers and calculators are currently a useful supplement, rather than a powerful replacement for traditional routine procedures. Current curricula and tests mean that most students lack any fluency in the use of spreadsheets[11], computer algebra systems, graphers, dynamic geometry packages[12] and (the ultimate mathematical computing tool) programming. These tools would enable them to realize the power of the computer to develop and support their mathematical thinking. But these aspects of mathematics are not yet integral to most curricula, or to CCSS. This suggests the following questions for the future: > > * Can computerbased assessments incorporate the authentic use of computers as a mathematical tool? If students are fluent in the use of spreadsheets and the other tools just mentioned, then the computer will become a more natural medium for working, and assessment tasks can be set, to be answered using these authentic mathematical computing tools. This will require changes to the taught curriculum to include the practical use of computers in mathematics  a worthwhile end in itself. Students will learn transferable mathematical IT skills with relevance beyond their school's brand of online test platform.
All the work the author put into this piece, only to be undone by its basic premise. That computers can play an active role in cognitive development. The author is correct when he states that that computers have never found a place in mathematics curriculum. Not even after the last 60 years of their existence. Even after an uncountable number of attempts. And it will be true for the next 100 years.
Yet, those who do well in mathematics have had no problems using a computer, or a spreadsheet, or a calculator.
One thing should be certain in any educator's mind, and it is in most. Computers have nothing directly to do with teaching mathematics. Art will never derive from the tools the artist uses.
Teach the students mathematics and reasoning, and you will not have to teach them how to use a computer.
Bob Hansen

