Date: Sep 1, 2013 11:13 AM
Author: kirby urner
Subject: Re: A further response to posting on Calculator Use

On Sat, Aug 31, 2013 at 8:32 PM, Robert Hansen <> wrote:

> 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.

This could be disputed. Even the lowly calculator was a computer by some
measure, programmable and everything.

Today the phone tends to be a computer and students are watching video
clips on all subjects using those. Plus communicating with one another,
which represents the development of cognitive skills.

Computer stuff plays a role in cognitive development for many many kids,
it's just not usually within a math class that this occurs.

There might be a computer club with a parent volunteer. The school may
have the tax base to offer "computer science" as an elective. This has
been going on a long time.

Many kids got into Logo and BASIC in the 1980s, even without much
encouragement from schools.

When I tutored after school in a foster home, helping kids to their
homework, programming in BASIC was a fun activity many would willingly do,
even though it was not assigned.

"Mathematics curriculum" and "cognitive development" are far from

> Yet, those who do well in mathematics have had no problems using a
> computer, or a spreadsheet, or a calculator.

A sweeping generalization that makes little sense. Even the most seasoned
computer user has problems using it. They're difficult to use sometimes.

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.

Computers tend use base 16. For transferring mime-type attachments, they
may use base64. Interactively, they can be used in place of a calculator,
with even more functions.

Everything about math becomes more relevant and alive when you're allowed
to study it with computers. Few schools allow this. They get
encouragement from thinker's of Hansen's caliber to stick with their 1900s

> Teach the students mathematics and reasoning, and you will not have to
> teach them how to use a computer.
> Bob Hansen

Teach students everything there is to know about computers and computing
and they will learn a lot of mathematics and reasoning in the process, but
they will anyway, as cognitive development proceeds inside and outside of
school, and is in no way confined to math classes.

I think it's more likely that "math class" will not survive another 100
years, at least not in its present form. Math class in its present form
tends to frustrate cognitive development and is too unimaginatively
presented to be worth all that seat time.

More likely, STEM will be better integrated and "math class" will fall by
the wayside as a relic of the 1900s, a time of stunted growth and much
gratuitous / unnecessary suffering in "schools".