Date: Mar 9, 1995 11:37 AM
Author: Bill Richards
Subject: Re:Technology in the classroom

From the conversations that I have had with teachers over the past two
years, and from my exposure to some of the key reform documents (such as
the NCTM Standards, Everybody Counts and Michigan's Core Curriculum
document, etc.), it seems to me that the errors that arise in Han Sah's
horror stories would not occur if those students had been taught how to use
this powerful tool correctly.

Educators I have spoken with who use calculators extensively in their
classrooms place a great deal of emphasis on order of operation, and use of
estimating skills as a check against calculator results. Students who learn
these lessons today in 4th and 5th grade will not be making the mistakes
described when they are college engineering students. Cindy Chapman's Beat
the Calculator exercise for 2nd graders is one example -- these students
are being taught very early on that there are times when it is not
appropriate to "whip out the calculator."

I think the underlying point here is that mathematics education IS
different today -- one aspect being the powerful tools that can be brought
to bear in the classroom. And today's students are dependent on their
teachers to show them how to use those tools.

Bill Richards

The Television Program for Teachers of Mathematics and Science
212 Communication Arts Bldg ! ph: 517 355-2300 ext 422
East Lansing, MI 48824-1212 ! fx: 517 353-7124