Do calculators make us smart or dumb?

Calculators help adults, speeding up tiresome divisions of real world money problems, for example.Calculators help explore high level mathematics by utilizing repetitive graphing techniques, for example.

The question is: For basic arithmetic, simple graphing, fundamental equation solving, and other low-level skills, does the use, or the use prior to mastery, of calculators make children less capable of learning higher levels of mathematics?

  1.  What do students think?
  2.  What do parents think?
  3.  What do math teachers think?
  4.  How early is too early for each concept?
  5.  How does this compare to other technological advancements, such as spell checkers or search engines?
  6.  How much of the basics in math should be required without a calculator?
  7.  Which students are most affected by this phenomenon?
  8. How do we compare internationally with our use of calculators in schools?

Any thoughts?


3 thoughts on “Do calculators make us smart or dumb?

  1. Pingback: Is technology the answer to educational woes? | RootingForMathEducation

  2. Wendy Tahill

    Do you really think parents are informed enough of math concepts to have a thorough understanding of calculators and specifically, in regards to whether or not students should use them?


  3. brettrubicristian Post author

    Wendy –

    Many parents are pretty uninformed, in my opinion, about what actually goes on in school, to be sure. Many get involved when their child gets in trouble or when their children earn poor grades. Otherwise, the majority seem to assume everything is going just fine. So, certainly I do not necessarily expect parents to comprehend, without direct attempts to inform them, the value or danger of calculators. I imagine a lot of parents would be perfectly happy to let their first grade students use calculators to push the buttons that would find answers for the basic facts.



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