In his TEDGlobal 2010 speech, Conrad Wolfram proposes just that. WIRED reports on, "Stop teaching calculating, start teaching math" here:
"Calculating is the machinery of math," he said, "It's a means to an end." So, utilizing a tool like Mathematica allows students to better understand, and even apply what they're learning as they might in a real-life situation post-graduation.
What about those who claim that we have to teach students how to calculate the problem by hand for them to truly understand it? Wolfram argues that cranking numbers doesn't do anything at all, and that understanding is gained through the knowledge of the processes and procedures. The answer? "Programming." says Wolfram, because if you don't understand what you're doing, then it won't work.
But what do you think? Does the use of a technical computing tool, like Mathematica, allow students to learn the concepts they need to know, perhaps even better than the current popular methods allow? And can these tools prepare students for real-life application of math skills, something they overwhelmingly say their current curriculum lacks?
Can students learn more and become better prepared for a career using this technology? How much does the student's future employment potential factor in to the decision making when teachers create lesson plans? With the recent dip in the global economy, it seems as though it has never been more important to take these issues into consideration. So, tell me what side of this debate you land on, and why.