Your Calculator is Killing Your Math Skills

mental math series, part 1

I know. Calculators are awesome.

They were developed by some of the greatest mathematicians of all time (hey there Blaise Pascal and Gottfried Leibniz!) And they’re so convenient. Just swipe up on your iPhone, and boom! calculator. But this convenience comes at a cost.

Remember waaay back in elementary school. You sweated over those those multiplication facts. You owned those fractions and percentages. You rocked long-hand math.

Then you graduated to middle school and you were finally permitted to use a calculator freely. What a right of passage!

Maybe eventually you bought a graphing calculator. One hundred and fifty bucks was a large price to pay, but heck, the added functionality, well worth it. I know how you feel, my friend. I loved my calculator too.

My attachment issues…

Back in middle school, I long-term “borrowed” my brother’s TI-82. It was a decade old, brick monstrosity but it was awesome. I felt so pro!

There she is, TI-82.

Junior year, I upgraded to a TI-84 silver edition. That’s when the attachment issues really set in.

One day between physics and precalculus, my calculator went missing. And I was distraught. I looked everywhere. I asked everyone. No one had seen it.

Then after what must have been the longest week of my high school career, I was called to the office and there it was on the secretary’s desk, my precious calculator!

I’m pretty sure someone stole it but I was so pathetic they returned it just to stop my whining.

The point is I was largely attached to my calculator. I used it for everything and losing it for a week was actually terrifying.

Going calculator free!

When you sign up to be a math major in college, they might as well just have you surrender you’re calculator right then and there. Because either you’re not going to be allowed to use it, or you’ll be granted permission to use it because the exam is entirely proofs and it is of no use.

College forced me to give up my calculator habit, and consequently my mental math game improved, tremendously.

When I was calculator dependent, I was forgetting my basic facts. I wasn’t seeing connections between numbers and I was losing valuable insights. I realized most of the calculations I was using my calculator for I could do in my head. It was dumbing me down.

And worst of all, I was making mindless mistakes.

That’s why I promote calculator independence. I want you to break the calculator habit. Instead try it in your head first, scribble it down on paper, or even take a guess and then check with a calculator.

You’ll be amazed by how much your number sense will improve!

Follow along with me

I want you to fully understand the power of numeracy. I want you to have the ability to wield numbers acrobatically.

Follow along with me and I’ll teach you every trick of the trade, every awesome technique and every mental math strategy I use.

Parts 1 through 11 of the mental math series are already up on Math Memoirs. Give it a try! You might even end up impressing yourself.

Next Lesson: Addition Tricks to Increase Your Speed

Here’s a few highlights:

Find Perfect Squares Mentally
Simple Trick to Make Double & Triple Digit Squares Easy

Thanks for reading!

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