Use me, says the calculator

Aditi Mathur and Ratnesh Mathur

Hi, I am the Calculator. In the adult world, I’m fairly ubiquitous, in fact quite indispensable for many. But I miss children terribly. Also, I feel sad because when a child picks me up (a calculator), immediately I am put down as somebody who will spoil the child’s mathematical abilities and habits.

I do not really blame the adults for such a biased perception of my role in life and utter ignorance of my role in learning. After all computation, mental math and speed are considered of prime importance by many. However, in my opinion, the essence of mathematics is in conceptual understanding (and not in procedural competence). Hence, a mere tool like me can only aid in understanding of concepts. Also, used judiciously I can also help build procedural abilities. calculator2

I am not going to argue the above case – instead, I will show you examples of how you can use me to build both – conceptual understanding and procedural competence in children in their pre-primary and primary years. Once you see real examples of how valuable I can be I hope I will find my rightful place in mathematical development.

The authors run Geniekids, a learning centre in Bangalore that works with children. To know more about their work visit www.geniekids.com.

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