Tuesday, May 15, 2007

When I read the news that an ink-enabled version of Microsoft Math is on the way (news courtesy of GottaBeMobile.com (http://tinyurl.com/39gfb6)), I was pretty excited. I use my tablet as a whiteboard when tutoring math, and the idea of enhancing the experience is very appealing. But then I dug deeper and found this in the press release:

"Similar to a hired tutor, Microsoft Math 3.0 is designed to..." (http://tinyurl.com/34yrk5)

Let me stop you right there, Microsoft. First, not all tutors are hired, so clearly you're trying to undercut those of us who get paid. If I wasn't worth every dime I get paid, I might be worried. But instead, I'm a little pissed.

Second, I don't care that your software can read my handwriting; you can't design a math app that's remotely similar to me. A machine can't teach the zen of mathematics or convey the way the skills grow upon and network with one another. It can't tell stories about how math lessons train the mind for the kind of logical thinking that is fundamental for a prosperous life.

Third, you're pushing this thing contrary to my standard argument that calculators can't teach you how to think. Yeah, I know it does more than calculate, but to the kids this app just looks like a smarter calculator that actually can do some of the thinking for them. That's twice you've tried to undercut me.

All that said, I certainly can't stay mad at an ink-enabled app that reinforces my claims that the pen is a vital tool for learning and practicing mathematics. Bravo to Microsoft for delivering what appears to be a fantastic application. I look forward to giving it a spin.

But if you guys keep pushing that "hired tutor" replacement angle, I will go John Henry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Henry_(folklore)) on MS Math 3.0, except I will mess up that number nerd and my heart won't explode. (Stroke doesn't count; that's genetic.)

CateGoogles: Tablet_PC
Mood = outraged


Microsoft Math 3.0 to make me obsolete


  1. LOL. Its posts like this that make me laugh. I agree that Microsoft Math 3.0 will be useful but only if it is used in connection with a human tutor, teacher, or parent.

    By Blogger Reading Wolf, at 5/16/2007 05:53:00 PM

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