I can remember when calculators first came on the scene. In addition to being outrageously expensive there was something else uniquely associated with these new tools; fear. Educators in all forms – university, high-school, and even parents – were convinced that by using these new gadgets students of the future would be unable to learn or use mathematical disciplines. Even though I was a strong supporter of the new tool I too thought that for new math students the calculator would be an anti-learning crutch.
In retrospect I had no experiential knowledge or study on which to draw my conclusion. When Whitney came up through grade school her teachers actively encouraged her to use a calculator. Even when she counted her sums using her fingers she doubled checked her results with a calculator! I tried not to say anything but my fears were running rampant!
A decade later I wonder why I was so blind. The grades are the hard evidence but simply put math is one of Whitney’s best subjects! The calculator was incredibly helpful along the way but on many occasions using it is the slower option to get the answer.
I listen to people talk about how others learn and I wonder if our collective blindness has spread into a collective attitude of deafness. People have lost track of many things that a minority take for granted. The minority are insisting that there is only one way to learn yet there are many yet to be discovered. The problem isn’t new. Two centuries ago, in a conversation with a woman, “Jesus answered, ‘If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.’” (John 4.10)
If she knew; yet she didn’t.
The knowledge was and isn’t in the normal channels. The challenge sits pregnantly unanswered. Who is available to help with a translation? Who is willing to be a verbal calculator in God’s hands – affirming when the young student gets it right, informing when there is an unseen answer?