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Using a calculator in an arithmetic exam

by Richard Millwood published Jul 15, 2008 02:45 PM, last modified Apr 05, 2011 10:05 PM
Using a Brunsviga mechanical calculator for O-Grade Arithmetic examination
Brunsviga calculator

I was at school in Dumfries Scotland in 1970 sitting GCE 'O' Grade examinations (Scottish O-levels) in both Mathematics and Arithmetic. Being in the top set, we were allowed to sit the exam for Arithmetic using Brunsviga calculating machines. Funny when you think how people deride the use of the calculator now as somehow lazy. We all finished the exam in 30 mins and had to sit still until the end of the 1 hour allocated. There was a lot of whirring and bells ringing, a warning for when you go negative!.

Lesson learnt?

I suggest that it took higher order skills to solve the arithmetic problems we faced using this kind of calculator and it is this aspect of using technology that is often forgotten in the rush to criticise the use of such equipment as making things too easy.

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