Ted talk by Conrad Wolfram

I enjoyed accessing and watching the Ted talk by Conrad Wolfram in the week 5 learning path.

In particular, his story about his daughter who likes to make laptops out of paper.  He told her that this was something he never did.   When asked by her father (Conrad Wolfram), “Why do you think I didn’t make laptops out of paper when I was your age?”  Her reply was “no paper”.  This story highlights the fact that our world is changing and we need to change and teach our children what is relevant to them now and when they go out into the workplace.

We have and are continually moving to a paperless society.  For example, from the use of cash and cheques to credit cards, from using textbooks in class to downloadable applications or software to computers, from picture books, novels and non-fiction books to eBooks.

Homework by Svadilfari, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   by  Svadilfari 

Conrad Wolfram tells us from his ted talk that we should leave the computation of math to computers.  While I have to agree with him that a lot of school math remains in school and is not something that a majority of us will use in our real world lives,  I’m having a hard time believing that it is good that we allow computers to calculate everything for us such as this addition slide rule I found on his website.  See this demo below:

Addition Slide Rule from the Wolfram Demonstrations Project by George Beck

(Browse other topics available here).

Does this mean that one day we will not need to teach certain core academic knowledge of math such as mental math for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division?  I do always reach for my phone (calculator) to make calculations!

I can see the benefits in Wolfram Demonstration Project, where the learning occurs because the children are interacting, engaging, visualising and exploring math concepts.


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