Speed...For Good or For Bad
On ebay recently, someone named Cliff Petrak has been selling his book Don't Slow Me Down With That Calculator. The cost is $15 plus postage.
Based on his 40years of experience as a high school mathematics teacher, Petrak claims that he can share a "multitude of littleknown, supershortcut techniques involving addition, subtraction, fractions, squaring and multiplication." Furthermore, students armed with this new knowledge (rather than a calculator) will leave their "computerdependent friends in the dust."
The thing that bothers me about this book and its title is that mathematics is not a competition and the situation is not eitheror! We should help students develop the necessary skills to do mental mathematics, pencilandpaper mathematics, and calculatorbased mathematics...which requires that we engage them to situations where they need to choose which toolmind, pencil, or calculatoris the appropriate one to use (or combinations thereof).
And "speed" is not as important of a factor as most people (including teachers) think it is. Above the element of speed, I stress creativity, reflectivity, openness, deep understanding, perseverance, and willingness to look back.
