Image result for calculators-       Eight times seven

-       Thirty seven

-       What?

-       Sorry. Hold on a minute………

-       Fifty-six.

This could be the beginning of a humorous show but, in this case, it is my daily reality.

I work with teenagers between fourteen and eighteen years old and all of them are unable to do mental calculation. Surprisingly enough, everyone has spent lots of hours repeating the multiplication table with their schoolmates, doing math divisions with an unlimited amount of numbers, multiplying with decimals and, even, learning how to resolve a square root. All of them squandered, at least, one hour a day for ten years.

And I have said “squander” because three months later after getting a calculator, they will start forgetting everything they have learnt previously. And after one or two years, at most, they will necessary need their calculator to do every single calculation. So far, no one of my eighteen-year-old pupils can calculate 15/12 + 20/36 with a pen and a paper.

On the same line, it’s very hard for them to write following the orthography rules, when they spend hours and hours writing messages without “h”, using “y” instead of “ll” or “b” instead of “v”. Rules, on the other hand, extremely sanctioned in the social media environment. And, to sum up this brief revision of our current knowledge, a few months ago a friend of mine told me that he was going to give up his English lessons since, nowadays, “there are some wonderful apps to make accurate translations”.

However, it’s really mesmerizer how doctors and experts in mental diseases advise us to practise some kind of mental exercise in order to keep our brain fit. Sudoku, crossword puzzles and other exercises to improve our memory are some of the suggestions to fight back our mental decline. I totally disagree with the idea of using any sort of devices that “make our life easier”, as the biggest gadget fans proclaim. But, unfortunately, maybe in a short period of time, our kids won’t need to learn how to read anymore because they will have a hand-held device that will read for them. If they will be able to grasp the message, that's another matter.

© Plataforma creada por Alfonso Hinojosa - Profesor de Inglés de la E.O.I. de Santander