The house on the Mountain

S: Instead of using a calculator, can I total these numbers by hand?

T: sure, if you want to. But let me ask you something. If you were building a house on the top of a mountain, how would you get the materials up to the building site?

S: A truck.

S2: A helicopter!

T: You wouldn't carry it. Would you?

S: No (mocking laughter)

T: Oh, so you would use a tool to make your life easier. Isn't that what a calculator is?

S: I guess so.  I'm still doing it by hand, calculators are cheating.

(note: S eventually gave up and used a calculator)


If you want to carry the bricks up the mountain, go ahead. Me, I'm using the most efficient tool for the job.  Students have been trained to think that using a calculator is cheating.  Even in grade 5, that attitude survives.  Why?  Is this something we need to fix?  Or is there some truth to what the student is saying?  My gut tells me no, but I want to understand as they do.....

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