but why?

In doing some research for a curriculum analysis I need to do for a course, I stumbled upon the following quote very early on in the WNCP research documents:

there was an oft-repeated concern {from members of post-secondary institutions that were consulted} that technology had taken the place of mental mathematics and that students were able to do work only if they were given a formula and/or a calculator. Some of the institutions providing feedback to the report echoed this
comment, indicating that technology use should be severely limited in high school.

Why is the initial reaction to a problem to insist it be “severely limited” – even if it that is completely unrealistic?  I agree that it is very frustrating to watch a 15 year old take out a calculator only to enter 10 x 15 into it.  This doesn’t, however, make me think that this student is poor at math; it makes me think this student is lacking in critical thinking skills.  Restricting technology use is becoming more of an impossibility with every passing minute.  Therefore, students need to be taught explicitly how to make very quick judgments about when it is helpful or necessary to pull out the technology.  Students also need good foundational number sense so they are able to know when the way in which they are using technology is  yielding unrealistic results.

If the universities are truly concerned about technology in the hands of students and how it is affecting learning, removing the technology will not solve their problems.  They would be far better off working with teachers to address the problem as opposed to pointing fingers.  While it is far more difficult, it might lead to more positive changes than they originally imagined.

 

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