The oddest thing about programs such as Mathematica
, and minitab
is that they are simutaneously tools of construction and tools of destruction.
In my numerous years of being a math major I have run into an increasingly alarming trait among college professors. Based on observation I have come to the conclusion that a good portion of today's college professors rely on their computers and calculators to do so much of their work that they allow their students to rely on them just as heavily. This is well and good when you are a student who just wants to pass a class. But when you are depending on learning the information in a specific class so that you can use that knowledge in a future class, this is not a good thing.
As a statistics
major the standard practice of a majority of my professors was to explain a concept, write it out on the board and then almost immediately run to the computer lab. In the lab we spent most of our time entering data, then we pushed a couple of buttons and viola! There was our answer. As a result, when I reached the higher level statistics classes I was extremely lost. I couldn't understand the newer, more complicated areas because I did not understand the very basic concepts.
I happen to hate using computers in mathematics. I have an HP48G
calculator, which I love, but I do not depend on it. I think that part of my dissatisfaction with computers is that I have always enjoyed doing computation
myself. It takes the satisfaction out of getting an answer when all you have to do is push a button. I wanna add and subtract. I wanna scribble multiplication in the corner of the paper. I wanna think!
Which brings me to my next problem with computers in mathematics. While participating in an OPT program (Observation Participation and Teaching) I was working with 8th grade students. They were so dependent on calculators that they would not even consider thinking about what 15 + 12 was without one. I see second and third graders relying on calculators.
I only have experience with computers and how they effect a mathematics education
. They're probably helpful in areas such as English, History and of course, Computer Science. However, I do not promote the use of computers in math education.