An Ongoing Battle

Last night, my son was sitting at the dining room table doing his homework when I noticed that he was using a calculator that I didn’t recognise. When I asked him where it came from, he said that he had borrowed it from school.

I had that instant feeling of embarrassment that you get as a parent when you feel like you aren’t providing for your child. At our usual beginning of year school supplies shopping extravaganza we had decided that we wouldn’t buy him the $200 calculator that had been listed, but instead buy a $3 scientific calculator app for his iPad that, by all accounts, performed all of the same functions. If we were wrong, and the app was not adequate, we would buy the calculator.

Unfortunately, he didn’t get the chance to find out. He tells me that his school has a blanket ‘no phones or mobile devices after year 10’ rule. The school sees them as a distraction in their important final years of high school. I almost couldn’t grasp that we are still dealing with this type of thinking in 2017. This is nearly a deal breaker for me! How is this policy relevant to the real word? When will he need to calculate compound interest in an environment where someone says… ‘oh no, you can’t use that calculator app, we insist you use this one model of ‘real’ calculator’? I doesn’t make sense.

We really need to be challenging this type of thinking in our schools. Tying the hands of our students with antiquated rules and ‘we’ve always done it this way’ is not ok.