It is a pity that Tony strays from what he knows about, to make assertions that simply are not borne out by the evidence. He implies that use of mathematics should follow mastery of basic skills. Yet all the evidence points to the fact that skills and their use should be developed together. It is the separation of comprehension and proficiency that hinders progress. What a pity too that Tony cannot resist implying that students' difficulties stem from the fact that they are required "routinely" to work with calculators. He must know that this is simply not true.
Does Tony really feel he has no option but to support the politically-correct line that calculators are the problem in primary school mathematics and should be banned? Surely a more constructive position for us all to take is to put time and energy into designing tasks which exploit the unique potential of calculators and other technologies, and which address the range of problems we know students have in developing meaning in their number work.
PROFESSOR CELIA HOYLES Mathematical sciences Institute of Education University of London London WC1