Mama Buys a Calculator
In my last post, I bemoaned the fact that there are now calculators that can draw out graphs – something people had to work out manually a generation ago. I guess I was really letting off some angst.
The school gave us the booklist and they specified the particular model of calculator Maths Methods students needed to get.
So, off I go to Officeworks to have a look. To give you an idea of what sort of price range we are looking at, this particular calculator isn’t even displayed out in the open with the other calculators. There is a Product Card. If you want one, you take the Product Card and ask a staff member for assistance.
I had walked into the store fully intending to buy two and walk out not buying any. I feel this is a Major Purchase and that I need to at least talk to my headship.
Upon hearing how much it costs, Mr Yewnique does a search and finds out that the only advantage this calculator has over other scientific calculators is that it can draw graphs. That’s it. He says, ‘Find out how much they’re actually going to use it. If it’s only going to be for a week, I don’t want to get it.’
Meanwhile, I spot a graphing calculator at KMart (good ol’ KMart!) for a fraction of the cost of the Recommended one. When I say ‘fraction’, I really mean ‘move the decimal point to the left one place and subtract a bit more’. Get the picture?
At the appointment with the school to register my older two, I ask about the calculator. How much was it going to be used and was it really necessary?
‘Do you want my personal opinion or what the school wants you to hear?’ the maths teacher asks.
‘Well, personally, I don’t think it is necessary. That being said, it’s the way things are going now.’
‘How much will the students actually need to use it? A week?’
‘Oh, no. They’ll probably use it for about a third of the course. And they will need it for exams.’
‘I saw one at KMart for $.’
She shakes her head.
‘No good?’ I ask.
‘No. I’ve tried it. It doesn’t do everything the recommended one can.’
I come home, look it up on ebay and find that I can get one for $20 cheaper. Mr Yewnique says, ‘For $20, it’s not worth it.’ (Really?? Okaaay, if you say so.)
So, off I go to Officeworks and with a deep I-sure-hope-this-is worth-it breath, I take the Product Card off its hook and take it to the counter. The girl calls out to someone to get it from Storage.
The guy comes out with the calculator and playfully says to the girl, ‘Here, catch!’ and pretends to throw it.
He doesn’t actually throw it, of course. But he comes up to me clasping the calculator reverently with both hands and says to me in a confidential tone,’Tell your son or daughter not to drop this! Also, be careful. It’s the number one stolen item in schools. Some students even engrave their name onto the calculator.’
Great. In addition to paying a bundle for this machine, I now have to worry about gravity and theft. Not a good combination when coupled with clumsiness and carelessness, the defining characteristics of growing children. Still, one must stay optimistic. Especially with teenagers.
My fingers are trembling and I try to control my breathing as I punch the PIN into the EFTPOS machine to make the purchase final.
The girl tears off my receipt and says with a smile, ‘Don’t worry, every parent who has bought it feels the same way.’