Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Four Wasted Years

Four years of high school spent with calculators in their hands,  four years of letting a machine do work their brains should have been doing has left kids unprepared for college.  Four years where the only thing that mattered to administrators was getting an A on a progress report did nothing for education.

The math teachers at Packemin have been pushed to use graphing calculators with all our students, particularly the lowest level ones.  Teachers have been told, over and over, to teach the kids how to solve equations using the calculator.  They have been threatened with "U" ratings for not using this device.  An ISS teacher told me that her former school forbid her from teaching simultaneous equations without a calculator.  Kids have gotten so calculator dependent that even simple operations like 12/1 are not being done by hand anymore.  A really sad part of all of this is that the calculators are not easy to use.  The time spent learning to do certain operations on the Casio or TI 84 could be better spent learning to do the work by hand.

I am not anti-calculator by a long shot, but when I see bright kids fall apart because they forgot basic arithmetic, I want to cry.  We've thrown away a generation.  How many more can we afford to lose?


Schoolgal said...

Wasn't part of Apollo's 13 safe return due to manual calculations???

I wonder if private schools are also going this way. Yes, the new technology should be incorporated, but not relied upon.

I always wondered what would happen if a clerk's cash register was to fail in computing change?? I can only hope stores test their cashiers before hiring them.

Cara Boutkids said...

Schoolgal, I have seen it happen (I made this comment when Pissed Off blogged about calcs in an earlier post), & it WASN'T pretty. This happened at a Bonanza Steak House (remember those?) on the LAST day a 20% off coupon could be used. The place was jammed, & there was already a line at the cash register when it conked out.The cashier tried to use her calc but--bad batteries.
The manager came over w/another calc...that one didn't work,either. Neither of them knew how to calculate 20% off the checks so, basically, they had to rely on the customers' honesty in calculating their own checks.
Finally, I had attended a math workshop, which was run by a math expert. At break,I asked her if she thought that the terrible U.S. economic problems were, in part, caused by Americans' overuse of calculators (thus their inability to compute even simple math). She sighed, saying, "In VERY large part."