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Growing up with a calculator

Kissane, B. (1997) Growing up with a calculator. Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom, 2 (4). pp. 10-14.

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Surely there can be few emerging issues in recent times for which informed Australian opinion has been more consistent than the use of calculators in schools. Similar advice is offered, whether one looks to our own professional association:

It is recommended that ALL students have ready access to appropriate technology as a means both to support and extend their mathematical learning experiences. (AAMT 1996, p.1) [in middle and upper primary] Calculators as personal tools must be available at aII times. (p.3)

or to our authoritative source of guidance on curriculum development:

All students should leave school knowing how to use a calculator effectively. It should be taken for granted that a calculator is available whenever it can be used, from Years 1-12. (Australian Education Council 1991, p.109) or to our research evidence:

Despite fears expressed by some parents, there was no evidence that children became reliant on calculators at the expense of other forms of computation. Extensive written testing and interviews showed that children performed better overall on a wide range of items, with no detrimental effects observed. (Groves 1997, p. 157)

Despite this high level of consensus, it still seems that very many Australian children in primary schools do not enjoy unrestrained access to a calculator at school, with generally undesirable consequences. There is an assortment of reasons for this phenomenon, many of which are well documented by Swan & Sparrow (1997). As a nation, we need to do better than this. This paper assumes that we have already done so at the junior primary levels.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Publisher: Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers
Copyright: 1997 AAMT
Publisher's Website:
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