We are taught to solve mathematical problems in a number of different ways. The pencil and paper methods are the most popular way we teach children to solve math problems. Students are also asked to learn how to use mental math to quickly solve math problems without the use of paper and pencil. Lastly, students are asked to utilize the calculator to complete the majority of their computation problems. The calculator is the method that has caused a lot of discussion. This question is always asked: At what age should we use this tool to teach our children to solve mathematical problems?
Some people believe that the calculator enables the children to focus more on the mathematical understanding and concepts instead of spending time on teaching computation skills. This machine can help children complete complicated mathematical operations. The teacher can Age calculator spend more time teaching mathematical concepts, thus more mathematics can be taught each class period. Teachers are always under pressure to teach a certain number of concepts each class period, and if students have to spend a lot of time completing simple computations, how can they teach new concepts?
Furthermore, some students become upset because they don’t have the time to complete their math problems. This is in part due to the fact that they don’t have a good understanding of math computation skills. This may cause students to be disruptive or less focused in class. Some of these students have been allowed to utilize the calculator in class because the teacher doesn’t want to spend extra time teaching these students the basic skills that they missed in their earlier grades. So, the calculator is used to allow the teacher to continue teaching the lesson.
Research has also said that children can use the calculator at any grade level, as long as they are utilized properly. The research says that the calculator should be used as a supplement to learning and not as a replacement. In addition, the teacher must be educated as to how to utilize the calculator in the classroom instruction. Research also states that most teachers are not trained in the use or misuse of calculators in classroom instruction.
This information is important, but let us not forget, if students start using a calculator to solve simple math computations at a young age, what is going to stop them from becoming dependent on them in the future? When will they learn their time tables? In Japan, where children’s math scores are very high, children are not allowed to use calculators until they reach the middle school level. Even then, students use the calculator sparingly. I suspect they use them at the high school level in the higher-level classes, like calculus.
Students who become dependent upon using calculators are losing their mental computation skills. This can hurt them in the long run when more mental computation may be needed. The old saying, “if you don’t use it, you lose it”, is true. Students who stop utilizing their brain to do math computations will forget simple mathematical tasks, thus math will become harder for them. This is happening all over the United States.
Calculators in general are not bad and at some point in a child’s education they should learn to use them. However, during the early years of learning mathematical concepts and skill, the paper/ pencil and mental math methods should be stressed. Early reliance upon calculators can cause children to develop poor computation skills. Math problems at the earlier ages must be taught in repetition to gain thorough knowledge of the skill. Children who learn to do mental math computations are developing strong computation skills that will be useful in their later years and in everyday life.