By Sidra Miller
Whether or not students should be allowed to use calculators is difficult. On one hand, having technological skills is important, but on the other hand, you don’t want students to take advantage of the technology and become reliant on it. There are a few upsides, such as that calculators save computational time and can help enhance one’s technical skills. However, a few disadvantages are that calculators help promote complacency and dependence, and they can aid in cheating. The advantages and disadvantages balance each other out and with or without a calculator there’s always something to gain.
There are multiple advantages to using a calculator. First, it helps save computational time. This helps people be able to focus less on basic math skills and more on complex and important skills. By middle/high school, students are already expected to know basic math concepts, so having the ability to use calculators for more advanced work will do more good than harm. In addition, calculators can help improve technical skills. They require some technical skill for basic functions, but they could easily need more with harder functions. Lastly, calculators are great for accuracy. They are really helpful for problem-solving or checking work. Calculators are great for this purpose; if both answers don’t line up students can go back and re-check their work to see where they may have gone wrong. Calculators are immensely valuable for validating work. Students should learn calculators are helpful tools that students can turn to for help, not just fast answers.
Like other tools, calculators also have their disadvantages. A major one is that they promote complacency. Students can quickly finish their homework, or learn to ask their calculator their homework questions and avoid doing the work. The answers are within a click of a button, so doing the work seems so tedious. This is where parents and teachers have to be careful because if students fall into a pattern of just using a calculator to complete all of their math work, they’ll never appropriately develop their math skills. This will surely come back to hurt them during standardized tests and other things in their lives. Another major disadvantage is that people can take advantage of calculators and use them to help with cheating. People can store information on their calculators or in their calculator cases to help them on an exam. Advanced calculators can solve certain problems like factoring and systems of equations. This way, cheating is another way for students to maneuver around the system which can cause them to fall behind in developing crucial mathematical skills.
In conclusion, the debate over whether students should be allowed to use calculators is a nuanced one, with valid points on both sides. The use of calculators should be approached with a balanced perspective. While they can streamline certain tasks and foster a deeper understanding of advanced mathematical concepts, educators and parents must ensure that students do not become overly reliant on these devices and not use them maliciously. Ultimately, the decision to allow or restrict calculator use should be guided by the overarching goal of cultivating a well-rounded understanding of mathematics.
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