Mathematics, technology and democracy

I have spent the last year trying to abolish calculators from mathematics education, and I often get the question ”So, you want your students to use computers to do the calculations on the standardized tests in mathematics?” But that is not what I want. I don’t care if you use a calculator, a computer, or a smart-phone to do trivial calculations; it’s not the tool that is interesting but the questions asked on the tests. The computer was not invented for doing trivial calculations – the calculator was – therefore the calculator had to go. My hope is that the next thing to end up at the graveyard of irrelevant knowledge is the trivial calculation, there is room for it next to the grave of the calculator.

Having recently been in a situation where I had to explain how I want mathematics education to change, I find it hard to restrain my thoughts to that single topic. In my point of view, this is not merely a question about doing advanced mathematics using technology, but a question about democracy and the future of our society. Teaching digital literacy is not only one of my hobbies or something I occasionally do; it is the only thing I believe in and my only political view. Depending on how we educate the younger generation, we could at a worst case scenario end up in an Orwellian nightmare having no exit door, or we could get a new world-wide community that I don’t have words to describe. Today I read a forum-post that summarizes it in a way that I never could. It is the most beautiful forum-post I have ever read, by alholmeswabasha:

Statistical capabilities of GeoGebra 4 – Outstanding

I am overwhelmed by the statistical capabilities of GeoGebra 4. They are so thorough, so complete, and so well organized. I have never used any statistical software which does things with such beauty. I have recorded a video on using just the most basic operations: http://youtu.be/nwnv7Cff358

I retired from teaching math 11 years ago, and the development of GeoGebra has been keeping me happily occupied learning how to do things I used to teach. We live in an era of really being able to do advanced mathematics with ease. I really appreciate the work and effort and money expended on GeoGebra. It almost makes me want to return to the classroom.

And, even though I live in the woods, near the Mississippi River, 30 miles from even a moderate sized city, I feel as if I have been welcomed into a world-wide community of people who love mathematics.
You all have become an important part of my life.
Thank you.

And here is the video:

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