TI: True Intelligence or Tacit Incompetence?

Article by: Alyzza Acacio 

Photographs by: Ramya Srinivasan 

In High School, every ounce of help in our studies is considered wholly precious, whether its advice from guidance counselors, extra study hall time, or even the TI calculators we use for our math and science classes.While the calculators no doubt aid our learning, priced at at around a whopping US$200 and considered a valuable when lost,  sometimes students wonder whether or not the Texas Instrument TI-83 or TI-84+ Silver Editions are worth being considered a necessity for all ISM students.

With its simple black and white screen (although a new colored one recently came out), changeable cases and professional exterior, the TI is probably one of the most powerful hand-held calculators available. Furthermore, its ability to solve and graph equations, ranging from linear to trigonometric functions, is essential to solving equations that would take excessively long to solve for otherwise. According to IB Math Higher Level student Ariana Mapua, “My TI calculator is my rock. It makes Math HL so much easier…not that it’s ever easy.” Evidently, students in the higher tier of computing classes, such as those in the math and physics HL, rely more heavily on the complicated device.994962_10201630150069007_447350447_n

Despite this positive attributes, some may argue that student dependence on the TI nurtures the “lazy-thinking” behavior, that is, immediately pulling out the calculator instead of doing simple arithmetic. However, it is important to note that teachers are obligated to assign non-calculator assessments on some occasions, which are designed to sharpen our arithmetic skills. Yet, we must also recognize that while TI is a powerful tool, it has its limitations. For example, students still have to create and input their own equations; the TI does not give the answer, but merely saves the time doing the calculations manually. Also, while TI applications like “Block Dude” worries some teachers because they serve as a distraction in disguise, these can easily be removed by the Math Department through a simple process. In effect, some students assert that the calculator is not worth the money, but online downloads for an electronic version of the TI is available, making it accessible anytime, anywhere.

Although apparatus like the scientific calculators have changed the face of modern science and technology since their release, we must be wary to embrace every new device that comes our way and to question the necessity of it all.

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