

Do Your Kids a Favor  Take Away the Calculator
The kids of today are so different from those of only a generation ago. Heck. I’m quite computer literate and am pretty good with electronic gadgets, but I can’t even place a close second to my two kids’ ability with video games and other technological toys. Yet this ability with gadgets has placed our children at a disadvantage as well. You see. They have come to lean too heavily on the electronic calculator, and this dependency has severely weakened their ability in math.
The calculator is a great tool, and knowing how to use one is important in the mathematical education of any child. However, the ubiquity of this compact tool has made our children incapable of doing simple arithmetic. After all, human nature dictates that it is easier to use this tool than to bother thinking of how to do arithmetic calculations. Newton’s Law of Inertia cries out, “A mind at rest, tends to stay at rest.”
Even good students today are poor at doing mental arithmetic. Knowing the times table is not that important because the calculator is right at hand. Even the cell phones have calculators in them. So why bother to memorize 7x8 or 4x9? All one has to do is punch the numbers in the calculator and out pops the answer. But what a disadvantage this great tool has given to the current generation.
All mathematics begins with and has its foundations in numbers. No matter how high up the mathematical ladder you go, the roots are found in numbers. Understand the basics of these unusual and highly fascinating creatures and you have paved the way for a smooth ride in this challenging discipline. The student who feels comfortable working with numbers and doing calculations with them, without resorting to the omnipresent calculator, will always fare better in mathematics than the student who is uncomfortable with these entities. Moreover, the exercise the brain gets from doing mental arithmetic is well worth any effort expended as such activity pays very nice dividends in the form of a sharper wit.
So do your kids a favor, parents. Take away the calculator and let your kids do their math homework without it. They may struggle at first, and they may not like this deal; but before long they will be thanking you for giving them the gift of a lifetime: the ability to succeed at math and the joy that comes from doing so.
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