Re: [unrev-II] Valid contributions to the debate?

From: Eric Armstrong (
Date: Sun Feb 13 2000 - 21:45:39 PST

From: Eric Armstrong <> wrote:

> I have taken the liberty of making a list of 14 articles I did over
> the last 15 years (but mostly modified recently) and post links to
> them at
> They have been written from my perspective as a college teacher with
> no formal education in computer science. The articles take into
> account human nature.

Just finished the first. A *great* read. Well written and

My major thought:
   I'm not sure that calculators "free" us.

Someone ran a test with calculators rigged to produce obvious,
unmissable errors -- orders of magnitude off -- and found that
college students would rarely question the result. If they did, and
the calculator produced the same result a 2nd time, they'd go
with it!

Like the atrophy of memory from lack of use, the ability to do abstract
thinking (via symbol manipulation, of which arithmetic is a simple
manifestation) is also withering away. (Unfortunately, the rote right-
to-left addition mechanism taught in school is all but useless for
mental addition. Working from left to right and using various
algebraic manipulations works a lot better for mental math. (e.g.
22 + 97 = (20 + 2) + (100 - 3) = (20 + 100) + 2 - 3 = 120 - 1)

"Mental math" should be taught in schools, if only as preliminary
exercise for symbolic logic, algebra, and other symbol-manipulation

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