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MathGroup Archive 2006

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Re: Mathematica and Education

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg64972] Re: Mathematica and Education
  • From: "KvS" <keesvanschaik at gmail.com>
  • Date: Fri, 10 Mar 2006 05:15:03 -0500 (EST)
  • References: <dulsnr$39r$1@smc.vnet.net>
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at wolfram.com

Hi Jerry,

I just want to give a general response since I'm of course not familiar
with your exact situiation. Having said this, according to me

"I just took a course in Advanced
Electromagnetic Engineering and I'm happy to say that I did not perform
a single pencil and paper operation.    I did all the homework and
exams using  Mathematica."

is not necessarily a good thing. In the Netherlands there's been a
reform of education with as one of the results the introduction of a
powerful "graphical calculator", that means the possibility to plot, do
some statistics, numerically calculate integrals etc. It turns out that
a lot of people lose touch with the maths behind the scene and the
calculator starts acting as a black box so that one only needs to know
the order of buttons to press to get a result.

Consequently people make typical mistakes, e.g. not being able to
recognize when an obvious numerical error is made in a plot of a
function and not at all knowing what to do if a small modification of a
known problem is posed for which the calculator doesn't work anymore.

My point is just this: Mathematica is fantastic, but only useful in
teaching if the action behind the scenes is also being taught.

Best, Kees


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