Importance of Bringing a Calculator daily for Maths

What’s up guysss?


When i was a student in secondary school, i had my very first scientific calculator. I could vividly remember how ‘new’ it smelt and how delicate its features were. The greyish-black exterior were the exact ones i saw the upper secondary students use and skilfully mug away for their examinations. It was a cool sight nevertheless looking at how the seniors tap away digits and evaluating answers from a handheld gadget. We didn’t have mobile phones at that time.


The scientific calculator at that time in 1997 were only introduced in secondary one in Singapore. It was actually fun playing with it the very same day i got it. The buttons ‘sin’, ‘cos’, ‘log’ were the interesting buttons to mash and it kept me wondering whether some mathematical equations were sinful or had a logical reasoning behind every statement. We have to use the ‘cos’ button to justify our problem sum workings perhaps.


The first week of school was the usual Sec 1 orientation with the introductory games and ice-breaking sessions. Students participated in booths and games ranging from mini-football penalty shootouts, hoola hoops and what-nots.


Students were asked to safekeep their school bags on one corner of the premise, somewhere near the canteen where the crowds were (cool idea by the school level head by the way! Personal belongings near large crowds the way to go! Brilliant.) and had a schedule to rove around different booths and game areas.


When the dust has settled and the smoke is clear, it was time to go back home. I had made a lot of friends who eventually became the best of friends in my life and we chatted about everything under the sun as we strutted and monkeyed around to get our bags back.


I was as excited as a nerd to immediately take out my brand new calculator and since it was a 10 minutes walk back home from school, I have plans to just play around with simple mathematical sums on my calculator while walking back home.


My heart. It was my heart. My heart was on the verge of breaking down discovering that there were black stained ‘spider-web’ CRACKS on the lcd display of my little sweet baby CALCULATOR! Some lagoon had stepped on my bag. Dude, i saved so much money from my Hari Raya savings to buy school books and the calculator costed roughly about $27-$29. It was exorbitantly expensive at that time. To save the same amount to replace my one and only toolkit in Math class would take me more than a month with a daily allowance of $2.




I needed to have a plan.


I’ve always believed in keeping things simple so i decided that i would –


  1. Firstly save $1.10 and seal it in an envelope daily
  2. Next, spend 70 cents on a plate of Nasi Lemak (yes, it’s that cheap back in the day) and 20 cents on Soya Bean drink for recess breaks daily.
  3. I had a backup plan – I had a target to approach 3-5 senior students to ask if i can purchase a second-hand calculator. (This is a dumb move. Being young and inexperience, nobody is going to sell their calculator not until graduation.) After a month of futile and embarrassing attempts, I realised that it was truly a bad plan. However, I learnt something else from that experience. 🙂 Will share in details soon.


I would have a replacement calculator by the end of the month. I felt assured and i was looking forward to the challenge.


The second week of school came. I struggled in class and was lagging everyone behind. While everyone finished a page of Math workbook, I was still at a third of the page. It was then that i realised the importance of a calculator. It was the ultimate tool any student could have to excel and to make everything SO MUCH EASIER in the classroom especially in Math! It felt like Batman without the Batarang.


I was struggling to cope and i was gaining the least experience points in the class while others were leveling up rapidly and seeing substantial upgrades in their intelligence and agility ratings. RPG talk, bro.


There was another bugger in the class who also did not have a calculator but he was different. He was plain lazy and chose not to do something about it. Even after a couple of months, he did not realise the advantages of investing in a calculator. $27-29 for 4 years was a good investment.


Before i knew it, I got my new, clean, epic, fresh, ‘UP-THERE’ calculator. I was ecstatic. I wanted to sleep like a baby that night when i finally GOT BACK MY CALCULATOR WOOHOO..! Video games? What video games? Calculator time!


I remembered happily scribbling answers and workings on my workbook at home with my new gadget fresh out of the oven. Oh yeah and street fighter games at night with ma brothers.


Today, (everyday actually) I would emphasize the importance of a calculator in my N(T) class. How much of a good investment it was and how significant it was.


A little something i did not know as a student was – I did not know that we could actually ASK our teachers for help in acquiring a calculator. I was not informed that such things were feasible. I have always viewed teachers as angry busy barking creatures back then but at the same time, teachers have another side of them that are clean.


Ask. Ask. Ask.


Some teachers would go all the way to help their students and provide financial support. They do not entirely cover the full cost but they help to cushion the cost because they want to teach their students to be independent and self-directed.