A calculator is a great tool for mathematical exploration and experimentation that enhances students’ understanding of concepts. Before exploring the benefits of using calculators in education and how to use them effectively, I would like to first describe the types of calculators available today.

We can divide calculators into two types. The first type is a calculator that evaluates expressions. This type is used to replace manual tedious pen and paper arithmetic. The second type of calculators are special function calculators such as graphing calculators, algebraic calculators, matrix calculators…etc. These calculators are used to explore concepts. Each type of calculator can be adapted to math education in its own unique way, and syllabuses need to be written specifically to incorporate it into education.

Recent research has shown that calculators are assessable tools in math education. Instead of allowing students to spend time on tedious arithmetic calculations, spend their time developing and understanding concepts. In the past, many students gave up math because of tedious calculations, and students who were efficient in these calculations were considered good at math. Few people pay attention to the dissolution of concepts. They have little time to focus on concepts. Today, with the use of calculators, students spend all their time understanding concepts and the logic behind mathematics. They can connect concepts to real-life applications. The overall educational experience is richer. That’s why calculators are recommended for all educational programs from kindergarten to college.

Some might argue that students might become lazy in this way. The answer to this question is suppose you give a question to an elementary school student, he has $100, goes to the market and buys 5 items of one item at a certain price and 3 items of another item at a different price, he pays 100 dollars, then what is the remainder he will receive. Now what is the mathematical exploration of this problem? The question here is how to do arithmetic multiplication, addition and subtraction? Or the question is what should the student know what will be multiplied by what, what will be added to what, and what will be subtracted from what at the end? The rough math of the problem is the process by which he is going to find the remainder, not the arithmetic process itself. Overwhelming students with arithmetic operations in the past has left many students missing the ideas and concepts behind the problem. Some others didn’t miss the concept, but gave up math entirely because of arithmetic operations.

Here I must stress that calculators are indeed good for education, but it is still necessary to know how to adapt them well to the educational process. Students need to know arithmetic and hand calculation. They have to work out how to do it manually. When the main focus of a math problem is how to do arithmetic, the student should only use a calculator to check the answer, i.e. to see if it matches his hand calculations.

So the rule for using a calculator is that the teacher should check the focus of the math problem and the concepts it teaches. If the calculator works at a lower level than the concepts behind the math exercises, that’s fine. However, if the calculator is doing what the exercise is intended to do, then it should only be used to check for correct answers.

In addition, educational books should write examples of using calculators to study concepts, and teachers should guide students in class to show them how to use these examples with calculators to break down concepts.