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Old June 19, 2002, 11:09 AM   #1
C.R.Sam
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Todays kids unable to calculate balistics problems?

http://tlc.discovery.com/news/reu/20...53.30697809444
Last two paragraphs.
"The death knell for the bundles of rods came in the 16th Century with the invention of the abacus, which cut calculation times but sacrificed complexity for rote-learned methods.

"Because of this, step-by-step reasoning was lost," Lam said. "When the rods fell into disuse, mathematicians lost the ability to calculate advanced equations and mathematics declined."

Soooo....possibility that abacus set mathematics back long ago.
Much as the hand held calculator has done it again in modern times.

Calculators all too often allow us to obtain answers without knowing how those answers were derived.

Thus totally screwing the curious when a calculator is unavailable or the problem is such that data entry procedure is unknown.

The best tool ever is the mind.

A shame that so many are graduated with those tools still in the original packing.

Sam
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Old June 19, 2002, 11:13 AM   #2
UnknownSailor
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Kids can't even make change for a buck without using the register, so I don't see how not being able to do ballistics is any different.

I've seem cashiers at my local McDonalds have to really concentrate when giving me change.
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Old June 19, 2002, 11:17 AM   #3
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I recall reading once upon a time, that some of the great thinkers of old Greece were lamenting writing. They feared that if it were possible to write everything down, then people would lose the ability to memorize the long epics.


Seems they were right.

-K
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Old June 19, 2002, 11:19 AM   #4
Ceol Mhor
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If it makes you feel any better, my calculus classes don't allow use of calculators on exams.

Some things genuinely require calculators, though...unless you can memorize a lot of big trigonometry tables.
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Old June 19, 2002, 12:21 PM   #5
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Yes, some math needs it. Students now adays use calculators for EVERYTHING. It is hard to get them to do 4x5 without using the calculator. They are way too lazy. The calculator is not a crutch for them, it is an artificial leg.
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Old June 19, 2002, 12:26 PM   #6
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Your great-great-great-great grandfather said of the youngsters..."they are not as smart/fast/hard-working as we were at their age."

Your great-great-great grandfather said the same of the generation younger than he.

Etc, etc, etc.

The point I am trying to make is that even though every generation thinks the one below it is becoming more and more inept, technologies keep advancing at an enormous rate.

There have been more advances in technology in the last 100/50/25 years than in the history of mankind. The kids ain't getting dumber, they are just doing things DIFFERENTLY than you did, that's all.

BTW, what makes you think the Valedictorians started working at Mickey D's all of a sudden???


Just one man's opinion,

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Old June 19, 2002, 12:28 PM   #7
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I've used calculators all throughout school. They're great tools.

So I'm dumb. What's your point?
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Old June 19, 2002, 12:38 PM   #8
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Ever take a good, hard look at the spelling, grammatical, contextual and punctuation errors that happen every day in this forum? It's shameful.

They're, Their, There, Two, Too, To... seems nobody knows how to read or write English anymore, as though the lessons of homonyms, synonyms and antonyms that we were all taught as children, have been completely forgotten. And what's up with the damned apostrophes all over the place?!?!? "We have book's for sale" or "I own a lot of gun's" aren't sentences. Oh... how many times have I seen the word 'sentense' posted?

Don't get me started.
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Old June 19, 2002, 12:50 PM   #9
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Quote:
Ever take a good, hard look at the spelling, grammatical, contextual and punctuation errors that happen every day in this forum? It's shameful.
Ay kan rite annd spel kwite wel, bot iff ay trai tooo tipe fasst, ay mak miztaks. Jusst uh mater of pur co-ording . . . ko-ordin . . . aym klumzy.
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Old June 19, 2002, 01:00 PM   #10
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My father still uses his slide rules on occasion...
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Old June 19, 2002, 01:06 PM   #11
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My dad to this day refuses to use a calculator. Whenever I've been by my parents place while my dad is doing his end of the month bills, he'll be working away with a scratchpad and pencil, doing his math with his own "calculator" to as he put's it, "keep his brain from rusting."

And I have to admit, whenever I don't have a calculator handy and have to do math by hand, sometimes I have to think about how to solve equations I used to rip through without pause. Technology is both a blessing and a curse, as many Science Fiction stories on too much tech nicely illustrate.
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Old June 19, 2002, 01:17 PM   #12
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My father's a civil engineer. He pretty much HAS to use calculators and computers...
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Old June 19, 2002, 01:44 PM   #13
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Sometimes a calculator is needed. Sometimes it's best to use that brainpower.

When I worked the register at my dad's hardware store, I was not allowed to have the register figure the change - I had to figure it myself. He said, "You're not going to be like one of those brainless zombies working at McDonald's."

When I took drafting in high school, I was one of the very few people who knew how to use a ruler! I had to contantly help the guy sitting on front of me - in how to measure a quarter inch.

I remember dad teaching me how to count, add, subtract, amd multiply before I started kindergarten. I would like to take a minute to say thank you, dad.
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Old June 19, 2002, 02:46 PM   #14
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Ceol..."Some things genuinely require calculators, though...unless you can memorize a lot of big trigonometry tables."

No....they just make it faster. You don't have to memorize the tables if you have memorized the simple formulae for determining the functions. Such as sine, cosine, secant etc etc.

Same goes for log tables. Don't have to memorize them, just how to derive them.

Knowing how to do such is useless........untill something happens and calculators don't work and there are no fresh batteries, or the solar panels die from age.

Unlikely but if something major was to happen.....the survivors would be hard pressed to pass the mental tools down through future generations if the parent survivors did not have those tools in their heads to start with.

Hence, a fallback in knowledge and ability. The new bronze age?

Sam
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Old June 19, 2002, 02:59 PM   #15
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On the other hand, you can take it too far. Anyone ever try to extract a cube root by hand? No thank you. Anything higher order is pretty much impossible to do without a computer of some kind (or a ream of typing paper and a few hours.)

Know how to do math the long way, first. Then, learn to use a computer. Whether it is a tool or a crutch is up to the user.

- Chris
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Old June 19, 2002, 03:09 PM   #16
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I find it fascinating to watch someone skilled in the use of an abacus. This is a skill that I want my children to learn someday. We homeschool, so no calculators are allowed, but I will allow them to use an abacus.

I will agree that our kids are getting dumber. How do I know? I work in the prison system and I still find men who cannot read. I'm not talking 50 and 60 years old, but 20 and early 30 year old men. Many of these have High School Diplomas yet they can't read past a 5th grade level.

I guess I'm strange anway..I still can't get used to the idea of male cashiers.

Good Shooting
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Old June 19, 2002, 03:15 PM   #17
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"Anyone ever try to extract a cube root by hand? "

Yes, many times. Did not only try, but suceeded.
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Old June 19, 2002, 03:29 PM   #18
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I don't think those in the prison system are a good representative sample.

I just finished Linear Algebra and Differential Eq's at a CA UC school. There are some incredibly smart 18 and 19 year olds, products of public schools, and proficient in calculator (among other tools) use.

In some earlier calculus classes, the use of the TI-92 was required. For exams, we had a calculator and no-calculator sections. For the no-calculator sections, typically the functions and integrals came out nicely (like sin(Pi/2)), but the calculator sections were really ugly.

If you worked for me, doing even relatively simple calculations, and refused to use a calculator, you wouldn't be working for me for long. Using brain sweat is fine, but you'd better be double checking the result against a tool that doesn't get tired or impatient.
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Old June 19, 2002, 03:43 PM   #19
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I'm an accountant. By using a computer I can do ten times the amount of work that pre-computer accountants could do, and with greater accuracy.

But it is a double edged sword, I used to be able to add, subtract, multiply, and divide just about anything in my head, very quickly. But that skill atrophied.

As far as Trig and such things, more power to you guys! My brain doesn't work in those terms.
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Old June 19, 2002, 03:52 PM   #20
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Seems to me the gist of this thread is that some don't have to use a calculator to find answers in math; others MUST, or they never can find the answer.

From what I've seen, and from what I've heard from HS teachers, I think that comparing HS grads of today with those of 50 years ago, there is a decline in the percentage of those who don't NEED a calculator.

As far as the loss of language skills, just pick up any newspaper! I'm flat fed up with "it's" used as a possessive! Arrgghhhh!

I'll bet that if you say, "Ballistics table" to most any HS grad in today's world, you'll get the blankest look imaginable, regardless of his math skills.

, Art
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Old June 19, 2002, 03:57 PM   #21
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Many years ago, they use to say that humans only use 5%-10% of their brains capacity on a regular basis. The really smart ones were up around 10%.

There are many ways to train people to use their brains more fully but there is a segment in the educational industry that finds that a big NO-NO.

Went into a contractor supply house and bought a quanity of stuff. Old time counterman looked at bill and wrote down total. Cause we both had the time he went back and figured it on a machine. He was off by .03.

If you practice it is easy to multiply/divide 3-5 digit numbers into each other.

The question is whether the reliance on machines and the subsequent reduction in use of the mind for everyday activities adversely affects ability to deal with new information. This in the line of use it or lose it.
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Old June 19, 2002, 04:09 PM   #22
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The students I get in class are juniors and seniors, all of whom have had a year of calculus. I'm still shocked by the large number who can't convert a proportion into a percent (maybe 1/3), can't do long division (most of them), etc. It's pathetic. They think I'm some kind of savant because I can do everyday math (add, subtract, multiply, divide, simple square roots, etc.) in my head.

It's not that kids are getting dumber. It's that technology and popular culture (TV, over-reliance on calculators, video games, a failure to read intellectually substantive books and periodicals, etc.) have dimmed or failed to develop their thinking skills.
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Old June 19, 2002, 08:21 PM   #23
Senior_rifleman
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The apparent decline of brainpower

You have me convinced. Generation by generation mankind is getting dumber. Do you think this is a genetic trait?

How many generations are left before brain function becomes "flatlined"? (The solution of this problem is left to the student)
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Old June 19, 2002, 08:50 PM   #24
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Oh, moi Bok, we're all gonna die! Ahhh, fiddlesticks. People have been saying that the world is going to end and everyone else is a moron since Man began writing things down, especially in the West. Cheer up, Sam I Am, just abolish govenment schools and you end "the problem."

Math? For my line of work? Well, let's see, given BAC=.19 and 2 other pending, therefore that means that 4 years for the instant offense+ 8 years for the Habitual Substance Offender equals picking up the telephone and scheduling another meeting with the prosecutor.
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Old June 19, 2002, 09:07 PM   #25
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Even though there were pocket calculators around when I went to school (70's-80's) my grandfather made me sit down over a summer to learn to use a slide-rule and memorize the log tables.

He always said that a calculator may run out of juice or get broken and then you're stuck. It's pretty tough to break a piece of plastice with lines on it.
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