In the XXI century, a quick calculation is the need of the hour. Numbers surround us everywhere, and any decision-making process is performed predominantly via arithmetic operations. Calculations are necessary both for studying and performing everyday activities, which explains the rapid development of electronic support tools. But are these tools equally necessary for both above-mentioned purposes?
Math teachers who encourage students to use calculators justify their approach by the necessity of technological tools’ integration into the educational system, which aims to make the studying processes easier and faster. This reasoning looks a bit weak in comparison with the number of undesirable consequences the excessive usage of a calculator may lead to:
1. Falling behind school syllabus
Understanding the basic concept of a subject is the primary goal of learning. Calculators do not necessarily contribute to this purpose. Kids may cheat using a calculator to avoid performing even the simplest mental operations. As a result, at some stage, students fall behind the syllabus and may even need to take individual interactive maths lessons to improve their calculation skills.
2. Problems with in-depth understanding
Students who consciously and actively practice the skill of mental calculations can easily cope with the tasks related directly to arithmetic, algebra, geometry, physics, and other subjects using their math skills automatically. Adequate assessment of the expected result can also be considered an advantage of minimal integration of calculators into the educational process.
The lack of understanding and unconscious approach to calculations lead to the fact that students spend an unacceptably long time on arithmetic operations and cannot independently assess the correctness of the result obtained or find a mistake.
3. Inability to practice logical thinking
The use of calculators in primary school may cause huge problems in the future. Enticed by a visible relief, kids are deprived of the opportunity to learn how to think logically and therefore grow as individuals. In 2014, British Educational and Childcare Minister Elizabeth Truss banned the usage of calculators in the period from early primary school to the late primary. The British Government believes that the excessive use of calculators leads to students’ addiction to these devices. As a result, kids stop practicing the computational skills they need to develop. Primary education aims to build a solid foundation for the future as computational techniques are the basis for the perception and understanding of the material of each lesson. It is easier to communicate with students and teach them if they count well and can effortlessly apply computational rules without r eferring to any support tools.
But what if school approves using calculators during math lessons and you start noticing that your kid cannot cope even with basic math without the device? The answer is on a surface - you can either minimize the usage of a calculator at home or completely exclude it. The latter would be twice harder in case your kid has already got used to resorting to the help of electronic devices. However, nothing is impossible.
4. Try to make your kid enjoy math
Doing what you love makes you more successful and productive. The easiest way to make your kid work harder on their math skills is to show how beautiful and interesting this subject is. If you need somebody else’s help, you can always find a professional math kid tutor who will not only improve the math knowledge of your child but also share their passion for mathematics. Interactive lessons, a personal approach, and engaging activities can turn the process of studying a serious discipline into exciting time spending. Thus, practicing computational skills will become an interesting game rather than a tiresome process.
5. Introduce a personalized approach
This step may be hard if you don’t have any teacher training. In this case, it is better to ask professionals for help. Offline or online math tutors elaborate and apply individual tutoring approaches based on a student’s goals and needs. Brighterly.com, one of the top online educational math platforms, offers a plethora of online math tutors for different age groups. You are free to take a demo lesson and discuss current math problems with an expert. Online lessons will quickly help your kid forget about a calculator as each math operation will be explained step by step, with the use of innovative tutoring tools and methods.
So, can there be a positive benefit to using a calculator?
A calculator made it possible to free up time for a more solid practice of tricky math topics and focus students’ attention on the essence of the studied question. A calculator as a support tool is irreplaceable when it comes to middle or high school as it would be impossible to cope with mathematical physics tasks or rationalizing denominators without it. However, those who deal with such complicated math topics are already supposed to know how to think creatively and apply different methods to solve a problem. In this case, a calculator helps them work faster without wasting too much time on additional mental work.
The practical significance of mathematics should be revealed to students systematically and unobtrusively for them to perceive it as naturally as fresh air. Math classes should train thinking, logical, and problem-solving skills, not just bare calculation abilities. With booming technology, it is hard not to use some support tools that are to make our lives a lot easier. However, the human mind will always be more reliable than the most powerful calculators.