HI Brad,

It's refreshing to hear that they still teach math in Canada. The situation is mixed at best here in the U.S. I teach college math and it is common to see students do basic arithematic such as adding 6 plus 8 by counting on their fingers. In addition, it is common to get students who complain that they should be allowed to use calculators on tests and shouldn't be required to learn things like taking a derivative because they learned in high school how to to that by using calculators.

It is sad to see how mathematically incompetent U.S. high school students are, especially considering that this situation didn't exist a couple of decades ago, before calculators were being used in our educational system. Quite frankly, I don't blame TI for the sad state of affairs in math education in the U.S. It is the fault of the teachers who are allowed by the school administrations to teach calculator operation instead of mathematics, and it goes beyond high school and now starts in the early grades.

I am certain that if something isn't done soon, we are gong to have a whole generation devoid of engineers and scientists because of the incredibly bad math education that this generation is receiving. The solution of course is very painful and includes getting rid of math teachers who cannot do math without the crutch of using a calculator, and it includes requiring students to master math principles before they are allowed to use calculators in school. That would cut into TI's business so they will fight such an evolution and perhaps delay or prevent it from happening. Oh well, thats life in our exceedingly greedy society where corporate profits are more important than providing children with a good education, which is very short sighted of course. Very short sighted indeed.

BTW, I'm told a high school teacher that TI gives them special treatment that ordinary customers don't recieve. For example when they call Ti with a question, after identifying themselves as a teacher, they get the next available customer service representative and don't have to waste time waiting on hold. Also, I was told that at a TI meeting introducing the touch pad upgrade, teachers were allowed to trade their nspire calculators for the later model for free. So, I have to wonder what is going on behind the curtain of silence, with respect to modivating teachers to use TI nspires in their teaching activities? Obviously the teachers who are benefiting are not going to speak up and just as obviously the silence speaks volumes, especially when there are mathematically better calculators and better software than the technologically obsolete stuff that TI peddles, and by this I mean that mathematically, the nspire cas has essentually the same capabillities as the 15 year old TI-89 design, but without 3d graphing. Your mention of the nspire being too clunky, the buttons too small with a lack of tactile feel that other calclulators have, along with the lack of color are good examples. I would sum it up by saying that nspire looks and feels like exactly what it is, a very low qualilty device.

I think that in years to come, business schools will require their students to learn the case studies regarding the demise of the TI calculator. By producing such a low quality design, in every aspect from math functionality to keyboard feel, TI has done themselves in, and people are realizing that they are much better off with a multipurpose smart phone with a math app on it, than with a single purpose low tech calculator from TI. Sure TI, with their band of loyal teacher/supporters, along with the testing establishment will fight the change but it will happen anyway. In fact I see signs of it already happening. When asked, students tell me that they don't want an nspire with it's low tech screen, they want an iphone or Droid, and their parents won't pay for both. In addition, I am seeing students use math apps on their phone when doing homework in places like the library.

I recently had a teacher suggest that while smart phones will probably take over eventually that will take a decade or so to happen. My reply was "just because it takes TI a decade or so to come out with a new design, that is not the pace of the rest of the electronics industry." New smart phones are introduced at least annually, and good math apps are already available. In fact I expect Mathematica or Maple to have an app available for the Droid or iPhone soon, and whole classes of students to rebel and refuse to buy the low tech but expensive TI-nspire that some teacher recommends, and I expect to see some really awesome high tech products from Casio. As for TI? They decided their fate with the low tech nspire design. They are history and people are buying better products. As for myself, I own a few callculators including a TI voyage 200 but I doubt that TI will ever produce another product that I will find worth buying. In fact I think it much more likely that any day now I will be buying a Droid with Maple on it. Now for use in class but for enjoyment.

Best Regards, from the U.S.

WOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After reading many of the comments here ( especially from Casio Addict ) in regard to bad math teachers, I have to wonder what the heck you people are smoking, what pretend throne of judgement you are sitting on with your supposed superior mathematics knowlege, or better yet, what crappy part of America you live in.

I have been a math teacher for 23 years in Toronto Ontario and also a calculator fan ( I have a ti83, ti84, ti85, ti86, ti89, tiNspire CAS, Casio 112ES, some Sharp models, and have had older Sharp 7000, 8000 and 9000 Calculators).

I have never in my teaching career come accross your fantasy idea of incompetent teachers called "Push button Math Teachers" but have run into poor teachers that could be better.

I would put my grade 12 Calculus and better yet my old Grade 13 calculus students from years ago when we had grade 13 in Ontario against most of you know-it-alls, knowing they would school the bulk of you in proper mathematics ( derivative and integral calculus, first and second partial derivatives, multiple integrals, areas and volumes of revolution, Infinite series and sequences, etc ). Lets get back to reality people, you may dream of your supperiority over your poor incompetent teacher from high school, but it certainly is not the case in the schools that I have taught in or with most of the mathematics teachers that I have dealt with.

Part #2

I would love to love the N-Spire, but have several complaints about it. I find it too clunky, the buttons too small and lacking the tactile feel of other calculators, would love to see high resolution and colour, and believe it could be much better. That being said, it still is a very powerful machine and there are some things I do appreciate about it.

Part #3

Why does TI hold the calculator market so tightly, are there kickbacks for teachers, etc. Think people !!! TI owns the market because they wrapped up all of the mathematics book publishers and got them to use their calculators instead of worthy other competition. How is it possible that years after it was made, students were still paying $130 for the TI83 when both Casio and Sharp had graphing calculators that blew it away for about 70 - 90 dollars. I once met a Casio calculator dealer in the educational market who told me that he had no chance of cracking the high-school market in Ontario due to this fact. If Ti had not created this monopoly, the NSpire would be a much better calculator then it is.

Brad