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Am I cheating if I use my calculator?

By Murray Bourne, 29 May 2006

I've always enjoyed John Dvorak's articles in PC Magazine.

A recent one, Knowing What to Know - The Cheating Debate, questions schools and their views on cheating.

In this day and age, shouldn't we reward the student (and worker) who uses the most appropriate tool to get the job done quickest and most accurately?

I often had this debate with (conservative) mathematics teachers who grumbled when I suggested we should use math software more and encourage students to understand what they are doing, rather than just churn through algebra. The lecturers would always retort "What about the steps in the middle? The students must know how to do that."

On writing, Dvorak says:

In some schools the profs are so out of touch and freaky about "cheating" that they are making kids write out their essays and tests by hand in a classroom. This makes no sense in today's world.

Hear, hear.

See the 8 Comments below.

8 Comments on “Am I cheating if I use my calculator?”

  1. ALex says:

    Although, the in the middle step are critical ,softwares are great tool to aid student in their education. Furthermore, if student were being trained to used the software(Matlab,Sb,mintab..etc) it just expand their arsenal of tool of problem solving.It look good on their resumes too

  2. nyl says:

    Knowing the "middle steps" in solving a problem is very good indeed; however, in our world today where computers are most likely used, a student must actually know how to use math softwares. It will eventually be a plus for him/her in the future.

  3. Patrick says:

    well in order for advancements in mathematics to be made, a student must know more than "press to solve." They must know the middle steps in order to fully grasp the concepts that they are plugging into the computer.

  4. Murray says:

    Thanks, Patrick for your reply. There is a difference between "knowing what the middle steps are" (which in most cases I agree the students should know) and actually wasting their time performing them.

  5. Alice says:

    Yes,A child in my class uses her caculater. I wish i could. It's not fair their are 2 children in our yr 5 class who get to use caculaters. In my point of view i think it is cheating. We all have to do mental and they get to use caculaters think about it. In a test say it was a times table test, would you be using your caculater,No.But these 2 children get to use them. Lifes not fair so make use of the fun while you can. But remember dont go over board.
    So my answer is Yes it is cheating if you use a caculater.

  6. Robert Disoja says:

    It's more similar to 'Am I drinking if I have wine'! πŸ™‚
    Very funny but nice thought

  7. Anonymous says:

    I mean, it isn't cheating if your allowed to use it in a test, but if not, then yea it can be considered cheating.

  8. Anonymous says:

    In my opinion, yes. In this day and age, even if you will need to know how to do it, everyone has a calculator on them at all times on their phones, so it shouldn't be considered cheating. Your teacher may just be jealous of all of the things kids have access to at all times today and wants to keep things "old fashioned" because she can't keep up with the times. Maybe not, but either way, I believe you are correct in believing that students should be able to use calculators.

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