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JohnF
Posts:
174
Registered:
5/27/08


Re: What math should I learn if computers can do it all? Mathematica, etc.
Posted:
Nov 13, 2013 12:06 AM


Ken Pledger <ken.pledger@vuw.ac.nz> wrote: > Hetware <hattons@speakyeasy.net> wrote: >> .... >> I'm in a conundrum twixt the use of computers to do my thinking for me, >> and learning to think for myself. Should a child learn his times >> tables, or learn to use a computer to do it for him? .... > > It's a good question. I'll just mention two past experiences. > At a Faculty meeting years ago (even before computers were > widespread), a student representative had argued strongly that we > needn't memorize much because everything can be looked up. The response > of a venerable professor of history was "There is no substitute for a > wellstocked mind." > I once received a phone call from another academic (in sociology > IIRC). She had a calculator in front of her, and asked something like > "How can I express 288 as a percentage of 417?" What she needed from me > was the word "divide". She was a Ph.D., but clearly had very little > intuitive grasp of elementary arithmetic. Ken Pledger.
Actually, it's not such a good question, but should be better phrased as, "To what extent should a child learn his times tables?" You still need to learn enough examples until you "get the idea". Some kids may need more examples, some less. It's an individual thing. But with tiny $2 calculators everywhere, you don't need to learn times tables to the same extent as when everyday arithmetic was done by hand. There's only finite time, and your kid's time would be better spent learning other, more abstract, math stuff (like percentages:) once he understands the times table idea, and has worked enough examples to make it intuitive to him.  John Forkosh ( mailto: j@f.com where j=john and f=forkosh )



