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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Dispute brews over calculators in math classes

"Korea will now allow the use of calculators in math classes, a plan that has come under scrutiny for whether it will affect students’ mathematic skills." continues The Korea Herald.
Photo: The Korea Herald

The Education Ministry’s five-year plan on mathematics education, revealed Sunday, aims to build an education system that will focus more on the process of learning than just the results, officials said. As part of the plan, students will be able to make use of multiple tools and software, including calculators.

Some experts say calculators will free students from simple calculation, granting them a chance to explore more creative answers.

Jang Gyeong-yun, head of the Korea Society of Educational Studies in Mathematics, said using calculators can allow students to focus on understanding the principles of mathematics, rather than getting hung up on complicated calculations.

“This can help students understand the usefulness of the subject,” said Jang, who headed the advisory committee on the ministry’s plan.

Students gave mixed reactions to the idea.

“I think the measure will help us save a lot of time doing ‘meaningless’ calculations. After we’ve already worked out the formula, doing simple multiplication and division is just time-consuming work,” said a 16-year-old high school student surnamed Choi.

A 20-year-old student at a Seoul-based university said she found it very convenient to use calculators in class but added it had some unexpected side effects, making problem solving more difficult.

“Since I am not used to using calculators, using one (in college) tends to slow down my thought process as I depend on the device for calculations.”

Some students also expressed doubts whether the policy would be effective in helping students get more invested in math.

“Students who give up math don’t necessarily do so because of the calculations. They do it because they have trouble understanding the concept,” said an 18-year-old student surnamed Yoon at Hansung University. 


Source: The Korea Herald