[Edu-sig] thought re graphing calculators ...

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Mon Sep 28 21:49:40 CEST 2009

2009/9/28 Brian Blais <bblais at bryant.edu>:

<< trim >>

> Just a month ago, a friend of mine who homeschools her children was asking
> me about graphing calculators.  Apparently the math curriculum she uses has
> a number of graphic calculator exercises.  My advice was to buy a nice
> solar-powered scientific calculator (for $15 at Target), but to ignore the
> graphing calculator entirely.  Her kids should do the exercises by hand, on
> graph paper instead.  Anything that is hard enough for you to use a graphic
> calculator can be done much more easily with a computer.

Well, the curricula have been customized to fit what the calculator
can do, with encouragement towards the more upscale models that do
some graphing and CAS (fractor equations, solve integrals...).  A lot
of what passes for "math" in this day and age is just a glorified
calculator, your tax dollars at work to promulgate a niche market of
private sector interests -- think defense contracting, same diff.

http://mybizmo.blogspot.com/2009/07/more-lobbying.html  (lobbying in Portland)

Whether it's in the best interests of the students or not depends on
the region.  My lobby encourages calculator crush videos as cathartic,
similar to those union strikes against the Japanese automobile, back
with Detroit called the shots, before USAers got used to working in
state-side Toyota and Honda factories.  I'm not pushing that analogy
too hard though, as we're big on working with Japan in this next
iteration i.e. bashing scientific calculators has nothing whatsoever
to do with shying away from Japanese art colonies (animation houses

http://controlroom.blogspot.com/2009/07/contraband.html  (smashing
calculators -- embedded Youtube)

> After giving her this advice (which I still stand by), I was thinking about
> my own experience.  I was going through high school when the first graphic
> calculators came out, and I had one Junior and Senior year and through
> college.  I loved to program it, and I loved the big screen where I could
> see and edit expressions.  However, as I think about it, I can not think of
> a single problem where I *needed* the graphic calculator, or where it gave
> me more insight than I could do by hand.  It was a fun toy, but not the best
> tool.

Here in Portland, the homeschooling mom got together a bunch of these
families and hired me to teach Python at Free Geek.  We had a
rollicking good time and my students (quite an age span) learned a lot
about mathematics, as well as programming.  This was several years

http://4dsolutions.net/ocn/pygeom.html  (write-up of Rita's class)

LEP High, our progressive charter, also had me in to teach math with
Python, the math teacher sitting right there at his desk, taking it
all in.  The experiment proved the concept that students teach each
other, left to their own devices, so a lot of our work is now focused
on peer teaching, cutting out the middle-man in large degree.

http://controlroom.blogspot.com/2009/03/pps-to-kill-lep-high.html  (re LEP High)


For further reading:

> bb
> --
> Brian Blais
> bblais at bryant.edu
> http://web.bryant.edu/~bblais
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