Calculators are indeed very useful. On the other hand, a student still needs to know the principles, and he still needs to know how to enter the information into a calculator. Do something in the wrong sequence or push the wrong button, and you have a problem. This doesn't matter in elementary arithmetic, when the functions are so simple that any 5-year-old, if told which buttons to push, can do them. But it is very easy to do something out of sequence or enter something in the wrong place if you're doing an algebraic or geometric calculation, let alone when you get to calculus. You still have to do it right or you will get a wrong answer.
American education is in a sorry state of affairs, and there's enough blame for all participants to have their fair share. They include students who are hostile and alien to the education process, uninterested parents, teachers and administrators who either are incompetent or have been beaten down by the system, and politicians who've become handmaidens for teachers unions. There's another education issue that's neither flattering nor comfortable to confront and talk about. That's the low academic preparation of many teachers. That's an issue that must be confronted and dealt with if we're to improve the quality of education. Let's look at...
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