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2 + 2 IS…

Filed at 6:28 am under by dcobranchi

Darn, my batteries are dead. What was the question?

Chet at Reform K12 has an excellent post on why lettings kids use calculators before they’ve mastered the basics is such a bad idea. The closing line is terrific.

In having a child master the calculator, that child just might become its hobbled slave.

Another big plus for homeschooling. We parents (as opposed to some technology committee) get to decide when the kids can use the time savers.

BTW, Chet’s analogy to a kid learning to walk may be more accurate than he realizes. He’s basically describing a baby walker. Those devices have been shown to delay the age when an infant truly learns to walk. Definitely counter-productive.

4 Responses to “2 + 2 IS…”


Comment by
Davida
April 22nd, 2004
at 12:39 pm

My daughter balked at not being able to use a calculator when we first started homeschooling in September. Her middle-school teacher had let the students use them, as had her 5th grade teacher. She kept saying she couldn’t do math without a calculator. I pointed out that she needed math tutoring last year, and with that still had a low “C” in math, all while using a calculator. She hasn’t used one all year, and she’s caught up on math, understands it much better, and is well ahead of where she would be if she were in school and still using the calculator.


Comment by
meep
April 22nd, 2004
at 1:28 pm

Not sure about the walker. I was walking around 9 months, and my ma had put me in a walker. Of course, my daughter was walking at 8 months, so maybe I’m one month behind! Oh no! I will always lag!

Walking isn’t a good analogy, as even with walkers, every able-bodied person learns to walk. Not everyone learns to do arithmetic or other stuff (considering calculators can do symbolic manipulations now, as well.)


Comment by
Ron
April 22nd, 2004
at 4:00 pm

I think the same principle holds true for allowing kids to do research on the internet before mastering reference books. When my daughter complains about not getting to use the internet for research, I remind her that Google already knows how to find stuff; I want her to learn too.

For that matter, composing on a word processor instead of with a pencil and eraser can cause the same problem. I’ve seen a lot of comments from college professors lamenting the decline of student writing skills as word processors became common.


Comment by
speedwell
April 22nd, 2004
at 4:11 pm

Ron, you’re not kidding. And that pertains to adults, too! I’ve been word processing for 20 years, and in that time watched my own handwriting deteriorate from “wow, your handwriting is gorgeous” to “wow, your handwriting is, ah, what does this say?” I know it. I scrawl. I resent having to make slow marks with a pen when I can just choose a heavenly perfect TrueType font and type away. Worst thing of all is I’m a professional graphic artist and an engineering assistant who works on CAD drawings.

Oh, but look, it applies here as well. Who wants to grab a ruler and make clumsy, impossible-to-erase lines with an ink pen when you can dive into a night-black void and draw miraculously precise lines of pure luminosity that meet at the ends in the Platonically ideal way?