>I don't think the calculator has any place in the K-4 math class. It >serves nothing and it is harmful for the child math well being. Even in >high school the use of calculators in math class has to be with great >caution. I have recently helped several very bright students who were >just the victims of the abuse of calculators in math class. I have >described one of the example before so I will not repeat here. >
If K-4 Mathematics Education were strictly about teaching students how to do pencil/paper calculations, then I would agree with you wholeheartedly. But I think there is much more to math ed. than that. Calculators allow the possibility of exploring patterns that would be far too unmanagable to explore by hand. Calculators allow students to deal with real problems without bogging them down in the computation part of the problem (which is *sometimes* the least significant part of a problem).
How many students in K-4 have money in a savings account? Is the K-4 level capable of learning about how and how much interest is accumulated on the money they are saving? Is it practical for them to learn about interest by sitting there with pencil and paper and churning out numbers while the teacher tells them if their results are correct or incorrect?
How about iteration? What happens "in the long run" if you begin with a factor, say 4, and *repeatedly* multiply by 0.99? This seems to me a legitimate K-4 exploration (leaning more toward 3-4 than K-2) that would be far too tedious to do by hand, but easy to explore and discover by handheld calculator.
You mentioned that you "helped several very bright students who were just the victims of the abuse of calculators in math class." I noticed that you used the word *abuse* which means "bad use" rather than using the word "use." And once again, I will reiterate that calculators *can* have a negative effect if used *improperly.*