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Topic: How technology can enhance math learning

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Subject:   RE: How technology can enhance math learning
Author: Mathman
Date: May 2 2005
On May  2 2005, ihor wrote:
>This is a tough area. It requires careful attention to how you
> one teaches and a knowledge of when it is appropriate to use the
> calculators.

I am in much agreement there.  I've already said somewhere about the student who
would not let of of his calculator to divide a decimal number by ten.

Here I go back just over 30 years.  The calculus students had all bought their
new multifunction [no graphing] calculators, and carried them like the old
slide-rules as their status symbols.  Being old-school, and having excellent
rapport with them, I made up the next test purposefully.  I designed it so that
I'd be sure they owuld haul out their calculators as soon as possible in order
to be able to use their new toys.  The catch?  When taking up the test, with
which they had had some difficulty [all were great students] I changed format
and went over it before handing them back.  Keeping it short, I'd done it so
that from the point at which I knew they would use their calculators, I kept on
working to simplify, and had arranged it so that in each case the result was
exceedingly simple.  You could hear their moans outside as they realised what
I'd done.  I told them to their relief that the test would not count in their
marks.  They learned that the calculator is a powerful tool as the year went on,
and I was able to show them a few tricks of the trade to save some time and
effort on occasion. However, they also learned an important lesson, to keep it
in their pocket until needed.

I was young enough and inspired enough back then, and doubt I'd try the same
now, since there was no way I would have even ten or fifteen years back due to
pressures.  I've learned not to fight it, and don't have to any more now, being
retired.  :-)

Now, I'm old-school still, even though I'm fully aeware of and have some
mastery of new technology, but I still say that all of high school mathematics
can be taught without the need for a calculator.  But it sure is a handy tool,
once the underlying principles of the math have been learned.


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