Date: Nov 12, 2013 2:50 PM
Author: Ken.Pledger@vuw.ac.nz
Subject: Re: What math should I learn if computers can do it all?  Mathematica, etc.

In article <d6ydnaKnDM2PNBzPnZ2dnUVZ_tqdnZ2d@megapath.net>,
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
well-stocked 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.