The advancement in technology has affected almost all fields and the activities that take place in these fields. It has greatly affected the education field especially the department of mathematics where the calculator has been introduced to be used by students from K-12 through college level. The use of the calculator by students has been an interesting issue and controversies have erupted as a result of the introduction of the calculator in schools. This paper will seek to analyze the controversies that exist as a result of use of the calculator.
Using the calculator itself needs some skills and not all the students have the required skills to use the calculator (Erin, 2004, prg.5). This is a disadvantage to those students who do not have the necessary skills. Regardless of the analytical knowledge that these students could be having, they might at the end of the day perform poorly simply because they do not have the necessary skills needed for applying their knowledge in the calculator. The teacher has to spare some time in teaching the students on how to use the calculator in solving mathematical problems. This way, a lot of time may be wasted as the teacher tries to help the student work perfectly with the calculator.
The introduction of the calculator has made the students more reliant on calculators. Using the calculator to countercheck the answer makes the student so reliant on calculators that its withdrawal makes them lose their confidence. The confidence of the student is very important as the student moves on to the next classes. Again, the introduction of the calculator at very early ages may affect the young students in many ways. The young students need to learn the computational algorithms that are required for calculations. These are some very basic skills needed for the student in future classes and failure to get the basics may affect the students negatively in the future. The introduction of the calculator makes many students rely on the calculator even in simple calculations that can be solved in their heads (Erin, 2004, prg.5). This may be wastage of time since using the head could be faster than using the calculator in making simple calculations. It can also be seen as laziness that comes due to the introduction of the calculator.
The calculator also reduces the analytical knowledge of many students (Erin, 2004, prg.5). Most of the students have concentrated on how to use the calculator than perform the analysis. Some students can use the calculator in solving a mathematical problem but if told to show how they have come up with the answer in a piece of paper, it becomes a problem. The step by step analysis of a mathematical problem using a pencil and a paper has been greatly affected by the use of the calculator. The lack of the knowledge needed for the analysis may also lead to erroneous calculations by the student especially when making long calculations. This is simply because the student cannot use his or her head in predicting the rough answer using the analytical knowledge in the head.
The introduction of the calculator in the classroom has brought many controversies especially in the way it affects the students in the field of mathematics. The use of the calculator needs some skills that the student must be taught in class. Some students must not get the skills and this may affect their performance regardless of their analytical knowledge. The teacher will also be wasting time when teaching these skills. The use of the calculator makes the students very reliant on calculators to the extent that they cannot even perform the simple calculations using their heads. The ability of the student to perform analysis is also affected by the introduction of the calculator.
Erin, M. (2004). The Calculator in the Elementary Classroom: Making a Useful Tool out of an Ineffective Crutch. Web.