From the forums

16th November 2012 at 00:00

Banning calculators from primary maths

Is this a good idea or a retrograde step? It seems that the government has no idea how calculators are used in the primary curriculum.


Can't wait for dipping pens to become compulsory and lessons for boys in doffing their caps to the high and mighty.


Dipping pens? I didn't get one of those until 1960 when I'd shown enough competence in forming letters with chalk on a mini-slate.


As an ex-FE lecturer and head of department, I can state that as far as the maths I taught to engineering designers and technicians goes, their dependence on calculators was a big negative. Removing the calculator in the early stages will allow the learner to understand operation processes and sequences first and this can only improve their overall ability.


Calculators weren't around when I did maths O level. We used log books and I didn't understand them, but I could do the calculations. How is using a calculator any different?


Used well, the calculator can enable investigative work to be extended and real examples to be used in science, geography and technology as well as maths. On the other hand, we can end up with a blank expression, or "but the calculator said this was the answer", or a mean that is outside the range of the data.


Students need to know how to do maths, not how to enter numbers into a machine.


You only get better at something when you practise it regularly. With a calculator beside you all the time, you have no need to practise arithmetical skills and so you get rusty.


Perhaps this is part of a long-term plan to bring maths GCSE results down as with English. Actually, scrub that idea, long-term planning is not part of the current government's make-up.


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