Thursday, May 30, 2013


(This item was written for March 13.)

TRY doing this sum without writing anything – or using a calculator: 33 minus 20 plus 12 plus 10 minus 8 and add the result of that to the result of dividing 24 by the cube of 2.

How did your mental calculations go? What is the answer?

If you did not get an answer or took more than five minutes to do this sum, it is likely that you are becoming too dependent on calculators, a technology, to calculate for you. And, you are not using your brain more. (I will give you the answer later.)

This is one example of us becoming too dependent on technology that we cannot do simple tasks.

Think about the maid who has got used to doing the laundry using the laundry machine that when the power is off, or when the machine fails to function, the laundry cannot be washed.

Think about a student who researches using the internet. If the network is out, how can s/he get his/her assignment completed if s/he relies on the internet for all research?

Technology can help speed up work for us, however, we must be careful that technology must not make us lazy – or weak.

Students who use their calculators to work out every given problem – simple or difficult – are not putting their minds to work.

As I understand, invigilators supervising exams at the lower levels of learning – as in Grades 8 and 10 – do not allow students to bring their calculators into the exam room because the Education Department knows that you (the student) must learn to use your brain to calculate answers to all problems given.

It is sad that students who have gone beyond those levels still cannot calculate simple sums mentally.

I read years ago that Mike Lazaridis, the co-inventor of Blackberry, once said in an interview that he would not buy his son a computer until he has gone past high school.

I think that the Canadian, with a background in engineering, does not want his son to be distracted as many are today with a computer or phone.

He knows that he learned basic principles in Science and Maths (important subjects for engineering students) without the aid of a computer and knows that if his son is going to be good in those subjects, he must not be given a computer too early. Those may distract him.

(Answer to the sum is 30.)

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