What can your school legitimately use calculators to do?

The answer: nothing.

In today’s educational landscape, the use of calculators should be viewed as nothing less than academic dishonesty—cheating in its purest form. Whether it’s students solving simple arithmetic problems or administrators calculating grade point averages, reliance on calculators in any form undermines the very purpose of education: to think critically and develop problem-solving skills. In every instance, whether you’re a student or a teacher, using a calculator means you’re bypassing the fundamental work that should be done by hand and in your own mind.

Many will argue, “A calculator is just a tool,” as if this justifies its use. But let’s be clear: calculators are not tools, they are crutches. To treat them as anything else is to allow students—and adults—to sidestep the learning process entirely. Imagine allowing students to bring cheat sheets into every exam or letting them Google answers to homework problems. No one would argue that’s acceptable, and yet calculators are often allowed with little scrutiny, as if they don’t give the same unfair advantage.

Let’s take the SAT as an example. There is a calculator section, sure—but why? The test is designed to measure mathematical reasoning and problem-solving skills. If students are allowed to use calculators for even part of the exam, are we really testing their understanding, or are we testing how well they can push buttons? The answer is obvious. If a student can’t solve the problems without a calculator, they shouldn’t be taking the test.

This extends far beyond students, too. Teachers, administrators, and even school leaders who rely on calculators to grade assignments, calculate averages, or manage data are just as guilty. The message sent to students is clear: shortcuts are acceptable. If your teachers are using Excel to automatically sum data or databases to generate reports, how can you justify telling students not to use calculators for their assignments? It’s a hypocritical double standard, and it erodes the integrity of the entire educational process.

The problem with calculators is that they create an illusion of mastery. A student who uses a calculator to solve a math problem hasn’t truly solved it—they’ve simply gotten an answer without understanding how. Similarly, a teacher using a calculator or Excel to grade student work hasn’t truly assessed the students’ performance—they’ve just plugged numbers into a machine and let it do the thinking. It’s a dangerous precedent to set.

Calculators should be banned in all educational settings, and here’s why:

**Calculators Undermine Skill Development**: The purpose of math education is to develop critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. By relying on calculators, students miss out on the opportunity to hone these skills. The ability to perform calculations mentally and manually is fundamental to mathematical understanding. If students never learn to do this, they are deprived of the foundational skills they need to succeed not just in math, but in life.**Shortcuts Are a Form of Cheating**: Let’s be honest—using a calculator is cheating. When you rely on a device to do the work for you, you aren’t actually doing the work. You’re bypassing the struggle, the thinking, and the learning process. This holds true whether you’re a fifth-grader solving fractions or an administrator calculating student averages for report cards. If we wouldn’t allow students to use cheat sheets during tests, why do we allow them to use calculators?**It Sends the Wrong Message to Students**: If teachers and administrators are using calculators to save time, what message does that send to students? It says that math isn’t something worth mastering, that it’s acceptable to outsource the hard work to machines. If schools claim to value education and intellectual growth, they should practice what they preach. Teachers and administrators should be held to the same standard as students—no calculators, no shortcuts.**Calculators Encourage Laziness**: Once students become dependent on calculators, their ability to solve even the simplest problems without one starts to atrophy. Mental math and manual problem-solving are crucial to developing a deep understanding of math concepts. Students who are constantly allowed to use calculators become lazy, expecting the machine to do the thinking for them. This dependence will follow them into adulthood, where they’ll lack the skills to solve problems without a device.**It Devalues the Role of Teachers**: A teacher who relies on a calculator or Excel to grade student work or manage data is not truly assessing student performance. These tasks should be done by hand, with full attention to detail, so that teachers can truly understand where students are succeeding and where they need help. Automating this process with calculators or software devalues the role of the teacher as a mentor and guide in the learning process.

If calculators were banned, both students and educators would be forced to confront the true challenges of math and problem-solving. There would be no shortcuts, no easy answers. Students would learn to struggle through problems, to wrestle with concepts until they truly understood them. Teachers would engage more deeply with student work, grading it manually and offering more meaningful feedback. Administrators would take the time to manage data by hand, ensuring they understood every figure they reported.

In many ways, the widespread use of calculators reflects a cultural problem—an overreliance on technology to solve our problems for us. But in education, this is particularly dangerous. Schools should be places where intellectual growth is prioritized, where students are taught to think critically and independently. If we allow calculators to do the thinking for them, we’re failing in our mission as educators.

Banning calculators may seem extreme to some, but it’s the only way to ensure that students, teachers, and administrators alike are truly engaging with the material. It’s time to put the calculators away and get back to the real work of education.

BY: Jennifer Wolverton

This article was created by ChatGPT after reading this article linked HERE.