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Topic: Re: Newsweek Editorial
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Lou Talman

Posts: 876
Registered: 12/3/04
Re: Newsweek Editorial
Posted: Nov 11, 1997 6:22 PM
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Arun Gupta wrote:

> With regard to "calculators are there, and are unavoidable",
> two (imperfect) analogies come to mind :
>
> 1. Anabolic steroids are readily available, we should not
> discourage our student athletes from using them, and


> instead use the steroids to bring our students to new
> levels of athletic achievement.


Hmm... Definitely a flawed analogy, unless Arun suggests that
calculators stimulate growth in the mind the way steroids stimulate
muscle growth. I've heard no-one suggest that.


> 2. Machines exist to do virtually any physical activity and
> can do it better and safer and faster than humans.


> We will therefore teach our students to be couch-potatoes.

"The-mind-is-a-muscle" again. Do minds really atrophy when not used in
the ways Arun thinks they should be used?

> 3. Since our writing tools are so much better than Shakespeare's
> quill and inkpot, our students will be much better writers
> than Shakespeare.


Compare the quality of a student's word-processed and laser-printed
document with the quality of a Shakespearean folio. Our students'
"writing" *is* better than Shakespeare's in the aspects that our "so much
better" writing tools are tools to work with. But the fundamental
writing tool is the mind; minds today are in general no better--and no
worse--than they were in Shakespeare's time.

> There is an old proverb that goes something like :

> "Knowledge in a book is like money that has been lent;
> when needed, it is not available."
>


> To that I would add "mathematics in a calculator".


The conclusion is clear: We should prohibit books as well as
calculators.

--Lou Talman





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