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Topic: Re: NCTM Philosophy
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Lou Talman

Posts: 876
Registered: 12/3/04
Re: NCTM Philosophy
Posted: Aug 2, 1995 6:01 PM
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Chi-Tien Hsu wrote:

> Lou wrote:
> >just foolish. It's there; it's easy; they'll use it. We can prohibit
> it in our classrooms (I think this falls in the "foolish" category.),
> but they'll use on their homework anyway.

> >
>
> I don't think it is foolish at all. Children "K-4" has little judgement of
> what is right and wrong, they are mostly learning it by observing the
> adult world and following the rules set up for them. They sure will use the
> calculators in many other situations if it is made available to them. But
> if we tell them firmly that it is harmful for them to use it in math class
> or in math homework, most students will follow. "K-4"!!! In "K-4", I see
> nothing calculator can do to help student learn math, probably on other
> subjects.
>


As far as I know, t here is no factual basis for the statement that
it is harmful for K-4 students to use calculators. Whether we like
it or not, the studies I've heard about provide evidence supporting
the contrary statement that thoughtful use of calculators in K-4 can
be helpful. I've seen kids hurt by thoughtless use, and I've seen at
least as many kids helped by thoughtful use.

>
> I see no need to teach students how to use "calculator" effectively.
> If they know the math, they can learn how to use calculator effectively
> in a very short time.
>


Every college instructor knows different. We see kids with
frightfully expensive calculators (kids will spend bundles in the
hopes of easing the path to a good grade) that they can hardly add
and multiply on. 98% of the power they paid for goes to waste
because they can't use it.

>
> A lot of technologies and other things exist or will soon be available
> for students to avoid difficult thinking and hard work
> learning. Should we encourage students to learn how to use all of
> them?
>


Seems to me that the real question is "If mere machines can do this,
what compelling reasons do we have for insisting that human beings
learn to do it?" In some cases, I think that the reasons exist. In
most, they do not. Hsu's attitude seems to me to parallel that of
the track coach who tells his athletes that because track is about
using their own feet to propel their bodies, they will run to the
sites of all of their meets--including the away ones on the other
side of the state--and that to do otherwise would harm them.

>
> Should we sacrify "most" of the good students just because
> "some" students will cheat on themself no matter what? Some will say
> that "most" students use calculators in math already. If it is true, is it
> because they have been encouraged to use calculators by their teachers?
>


If students do not use calculators on math, it's probably because
they're more foolish than the teachers who tell them, without
supporting evidence, that it's a fact that it's harmful to do so.

--Lou Talman






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