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Donkey work is making maths a beast of burden

I am amused. Conrad Wolfram is telling us to do what my technician told me to do more than 20 years ago. I had a GCSE physics class with a number of stroppy lads. We were doing practical work that required calculations and graphs, which would be done very grudgingly and sloppily.

My technician added a computer and gadgets for doing measurements to my equipment. That class was never the same. The stroppiest lad was put in charge of the computer, with various others given charge of the different instruments. They could do the measurements more quickly; they could show they understood the equations by feeding in the correct data - out would come answers and graphs. They had to be ejected at break time rather than being restrained until the bell went. And all because the tedious manual work had been done for them by the computer.

Jane Giffould, Unemployed, Halstead, Essex.

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