Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Do Calculators Help Our Children Learn

The jury is still out on the question of whether young children should be introduced to calculators to help them with adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. Some might argue that since nowadays we have calculators, why should anyone even need to learn these simple functions? The argument continues that what is important in math is creativity, and for some children memorizing multiplication tables and remembering subtraction rules just stymie and thwart the natural development of the creative side of math. Since children are so computer savvy today, knowing simple math by heart does not really add anything to their ability to do real math, which is more of a thinking exercise and more creative.

That point of view seems to be much in the minority, with most parents and teachers believing that the discipline required to memorize the times table, as well as the knowledge of what multiplication and division really mean, not to mention adding and subtracting, help children develop the mental abilities needed to go forward and advance successfully in math. This viewpoint would compare a calculator to a wheelchair. If a person has the ability to walk but he instead always rides in a wheelchair, you would destroy his ability to ever learn to walk on his own, and certainly he would never be able to run, or jump over the bar in a pole vaulting contest.

But maybe a calculator is not a “wheelchair?” Maybe it’s more like a staircase? Without the staircase, a person would have to climb a wall to get through the door. The staircase is a smart way to get to the point, the door. Perhaps for many children learning adding, subtraction, multiplication and division are like climbing a wall. Perhaps if we could give them a calculator, they could get to the door, the creativity side of mathematics? It’s something to think about.