Why I don't agree with calculators replacing long-hand

chozo_hybrid

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Jul 15, 2009
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How do you know the math is the problem? Some stores I have worked in have till systems and computer systems so complicated for doing things like refunds and discounts that if you haven't done one for a while, then you forget how to do them.

NiPah said:
You waited around 20 minutes for them to take off a coupon? Hell I'm not sure you should be complaining about others doing poor at math.
Exactly. If it was the math, why not help the person instead of just being lazy about it. Clearly if someone is having trouble and you can help them with something you consider as simple as math, then why not help instead of just waiting for 20 minutes.

As someone who works at a register from time to time, at the end of my usual 10 hour shifts, I get customers who want to split the cost 3-6 ways on average for decent sums of money. I always ask if they can just work it out on their phone because I'm quite tired. I'm also not the best at math, but I usually am okay with stuff like that. Never had a person have an issue with me asking.
 

JasonBurnout16

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Oct 12, 2009
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kurokotetsu said:
I don't blame schools. Calculators are mighty handy and with most celphones having one integrated, well, it is easy to see why people don't do math in the head. We should still be able to do it though. What we should give people is the "dirty" trick to solve problems. LIke that 459*15 that is up there, instead of doing the hassel that is the whole opperation, add a zero to the second number to have 4590, then divide by two (which is easy to do) to get 2295 and add these two numbers to get 6885, which I thinik it is the right answer in less than a minute (checked it, it is right). A trick, multiplyin by 15 is the same as multiplying by 5 and 10 and adding the result, so we do the ten (which is trivial, just add a zero to the number) and with that the product times five is very easy as it is half of the given number, so you can get both factors with easy calculations and just add them.
Interesting way of doing it, you're keeping some larger numbers in your head that way. I'd just add 1 to the 459 to get 460. Then do:

460 X 10 = 4600
4600 / 2 = 2300
4600 + 2300 = 6900
6900 - 15 = 6885

Because that's maths I can do in my head.
 

teebeeohh

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Jun 17, 2009
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i blame society.
no really, whenever people talk about what they didn't like in school not liking math is treated like it's funny and charming but if you didn't go out drinking and partying or didn't like sports you are somehow a weirdo.

and percentages are not that hard.
 

rednose1

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Oct 11, 2009
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I'm totally in agreement that knowing simple math is a useful skill, but disagree on the culprit here. Assuming the cashier is a teenager, they more than likely already covered percentages, then moved on. People all the time say "if you don't use it, you lose it." and figure that's what happened here. Not extremely hard to calculate percentages (your examples are great, I tend to figure out how much off a sale is, same with coupons)

Continuously going over learned material in class would help, but kids are already behind as is. Having to go back and re-cover material is adding to a system that is already struggling. Really, if the only time people apply what the learned in school is at school, then that's what needs to be corrected.
 

Blaster395

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Dec 13, 2009
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Something tells me you haven't studied maths at a high level yourself. Calculators are only a replacement for basic stuff like +-x/ and a bunch of functions if you have a scientific calculator. Graphics Calculators are basically small computers though.

Once you reach calculus, calculators are somewhat pointless, unless for whatever reason the question is giving you pointlessly large numbers and you need to calculate large multiplications.

Before you start moving into Algebra, your average person's idea of harder maths is the same stuff they are already doing but with bigger numbers. Once you know algebra, you realize that bigger numbers is just more time consuming, not harder.
 

Clive Howlitzer

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While we are at it, we should get rid of cars. I feel peoples legs aren't being tested enough, we should go back to walking. Let us also remove all written records, memory isn't what it used to be. Also, please immediately remove your computer, it is making you weak.
Soon you can discard all technology and rely solely on your 'superior' natural instincts.
 

Something Amyss

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Dec 3, 2008
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Moderated said:
What store doesn't have a calculator on hand/a computer system that handles coupons?
Either way, that's retarded. If there is a cell phone, MP3 player, computer, or laptop anywhere near you, you have a calculator. I would find it hard to find a place without any of those when most people you meet will have a cell phone.
You say that now, but just wait until you're stranded in the Arctic and need to know the third leg of a right triangle!
 

Dirty Hipsters

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Zachary Amaranth said:
Moderated said:
What store doesn't have a calculator on hand/a computer system that handles coupons?
Either way, that's retarded. If there is a cell phone, MP3 player, computer, or laptop anywhere near you, you have a calculator. I would find it hard to find a place without any of those when most people you meet will have a cell phone.
You say that now, but just wait until you're stranded in the Arctic and need to know the third leg of a right triangle!
Can you do square roots of imperfect squares in your head? I can't.
 

Battenberg

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amaranth_dru said:
Its pretty simple. There are times I've gone to a store or restaurant and the cashier has an issue ringing up something or taking off a coupon. They spend 20 minutes or more trying to figure out how to subtract the coupon amount from the non-taxed total because:

A. They don't have a calculator handy
B. They don't know how to do subtraction or percentages

This is just stupid and I blame schools for allowing kids to use calculators in place of learning math on their own.
Surely in this situation if you're going to blame anyone it should be the employer who hired someone without basic mathematics skills for a job where they would clearly need them? Goodness knows there's no shortage of potential employees out there for retail/ waitering(/waitressing) jobs out there who will be capable of doing this.

OT: calculator's are more accurate than humans and considerably faster in a lot of situations, they are nothing more than a tool and I don't see why you shouldn't use them whenever possible. Your argument is based around the fact that a calculator isn't always available however neither is a pen and paper, should people be banned from using those too? Perhaps abacuses should be banned to? They are all simply tools that make our lives easier. In an ideal world it would be great if everyone could do any and all maths in their heads without any props to assist them however that is not the world we live in.

While I do agree that some people really are lacking in basic skills in maths (although this is true of any key skill) and that is an issue that should be tackled however blaming calculators for this is ridiculous in my personal opinion. It comes down to falling teaching standards/ easier tests and an increasingly unmotivated youth for whom learning maths doesn't matter at all.
 

Olas

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Dec 24, 2011
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I'd say knowing basic arithmetic is handy for day to day situations like dealing with money. However when it comes to harder[footnote]and by harder I mean more tedious really[/footnote] stuff like long division it's really pointless, because the shear amount of time it takes to write it out is longer than simply pulling out your phone and typing it up.

Nowadays almost every device has a calculator built into it, so needing a calculator isn't nearly as large a disadvantage as say 15 years ago. I almost feel a little cheated to be honest. I spent years learning to do things that anyone can do with a few pushes of a button.
 

Phrozenflame500

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Moderated said:
Either way, that's retarded. If there is a cell phone, MP3 player, computer, or laptop anywhere near you, you have a calculator. I would find it hard to find a place without any of those when most people you meet will have a cell phone.
/thread

Seriously, what the fuck. Every cellphone for the past 20 years has had basic calculator functionality. How do you not have one handy?

Not to mention most of the stores in my area have computer-cashiers which also act as calculators.

But I do kinda agree with the OP, although I question if this is actually a problem. The schools I went to, as well as all the schools I know of teach basic formula before giving them a calculator. I blame people being bad at remembering elementary school math, rather then them just not being taught.
 

Naeo

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It's incredibly important to know how to do math by hand. That said, in the era when everyone has about seven devices on them at any given time that have calculator function, that importance has faded. At least so long as we're talking about basic arithmetic. If we're talking about manipulating equations/deriving stuff (like I do a lot in my physics classes), yeah, calculators are not super useful. They often put things in very inconvenient forms.

But for basic arithmetic? I don't think it's as critical a skill as it used to be. It's still important as hell, mind you, in terms of things like budgeting money and quick estimations for things like prices and dimensions (if you're building stuff, you need to know how big it is), but on a day-to-day level most people can safely fall back on calculators.
 

Something Amyss

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chinangel said:
Sure, to a point. Some people however have learning disabilities (myself: Tested and revealed to be exceptionally strong in english but unbelievably weak in math)
I hope your testing was more specific than that, because that doesn't entail a learning disability. There are many reasons for poor scores in mathematics, which include aversion and simple laziness.
 

Something Amyss

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Dirty Hipsters said:
Can you do square roots of imperfect squares in your head? I can't.
I totally can.

But then, if I couldn't, use of such an example in an already absurd situation might have been the point.

Just saying.
 

KeyMaster45

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Jun 16, 2008
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Clive Howlitzer said:
While we are at it, we should get rid of cars. I feel peoples legs aren't being tested enough, we should go back to walking. Let us also remove all written records, memory isn't what it used to be. Also, please immediately remove your computer, it is making you weak.
Soon you can discard all technology and rely solely on your 'superior' natural instincts.
This post was going to be written, but the user had an epiphany after reading the quoted post; they hurled their PC from their second story dormitory window.

This user in question went on to live in the darkest swampy parts of Louisiana as a roaming nomad-master of the wilderness. He clothes himself in nutria rat skins; wields the sharpened beak of a pelican tied to a cypress branch, and carries a shield made from a magnolia tree trunk; and he travels the swamps atop the back of his alligator mount named T-Charles.

The locals have given a name to this legend of a man, but nobody can understand it through their thick Cajun accents.

To Clive Howlitzer he sends a fresh bounty of illegally harvested alligator meat and skins; to everyone else in this thread he sends his ever-lasting thanks for showing him the light.


This automated message was possible via a message written in blood on the back of a beaver skin, that was found at the edge of the swamp.
 

JFKRowling

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Mar 15, 2013
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It sort of depends on the geometry of the display. If the numbers are lined up correctly on the screen according to the operation being performed, then the student can visualize the process and remove the unnecessary time burden of actually mentally performing each sub-calculation. If the display fails to explain and contextualize the process of the mathematical operation at hand, the student will never understand the larger theoretical framework to which calculators are supposed to simplify and improve manipulation and access.
That's why physically performing all calculations on paper, on a board, with your hands, or on any digital surface is preferable while learning new concepts. It serves to solidly ground the new information within the context of its relationship with related concepts that are already understood, and it accelerates all aspects of the learning process.
 

Suave Charlie

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Sep 23, 2009
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I work entirely with numbers and need to calculate even fairly simple things on the fly.

I used to be fairly good at maths, but I just use a calculator that's on my desk about 7 inches from my hand.
I use it for absolutely everything, earlier I used it to confirm 1400-200-40-250-150-100-100-360. Yeah, I could have done it in my head on the fly, but I didn't, I used a calculator.

Now riddle me this; am I any worse off?
I got the answer I wanted, and carried on with my day.
 

Bat Vader

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Mar 11, 2009
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I think blame more lies with the schools they learned at and not the calculator. Most of the schools I attended the math teachers only did the bare minimum in teaching.

At the high school I attended homework wasn't even graded based on if it was right or not but based on whether it was done. When I asked for help all the teacher ever did was show me how to do it. He didn't explain to me how it was done or help me understand it.

We were not allowed to use calculators either. Basically he wanted us to know how to do the stuff before he taught it and if we didn't he only did the bare minimum in helping us.
 

Wyes

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Aug 1, 2009
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So, I've had a very interesting relationship with maths over the years.
I am about to graduate from my undergraduate degree with a major in Maths and Advanced Physics. As you might imagine, I am pretty good at maths.
But you know what? I really struggle doing basic arithmetic in my head. Especially when people are watching me. Some of this is because I've had really bad maths teachers over the years.
But you know the real reason why? Because I find it very very difficult to store numbers in my head for multiple step calculations.
There is no way around this. The way my brain stores numbers interferes with the way my brain does calculations.
I mean, I can still do really simple things (e.g. multiples of 2, and 5, and percentages), but that 459*15 question up there would take me a while.
But give me a pen and paper? I can do anything.
For me, the calculator is a similar crutch - it lets me skip the tedious calculation that I know how to do.

At least where I was educated - you were not allowed to use calculators up until your third or fourth year of high school. This has not eliminated calculator dependency.
 

chinangel

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Sep 25, 2009
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Zachary Amaranth said:
chinangel said:
Sure, to a point. Some people however have learning disabilities (myself: Tested and revealed to be exceptionally strong in english but unbelievably weak in math)
I hope your testing was more specific than that, because that doesn't entail a learning disability. There are many reasons for poor scores in mathematics, which include aversion and simple laziness.
The testing took up several sessions in which I had to solve mathematical problems both on sheets and in my head, memorizing stories and whatnot.

I was very, very weak in math as a result (somewhere in the low five percentile, and most people are in the fiftieth) but very strong in english (in teh high nineties percentile).

The woman testing my brother and I stated th at it's very common for those with a learning disability to have an extreme weakness in one subject that is compensated by a notable strength in another subject. For my brother and I: Math was our weakness and english was our strength. More to the point: literacy.

in her words: "You two definitely have a learning disability"