Ask TFS: When Calculators Run Away

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Ghost, Author

“What do you do when you’ve lost your expensive graphing calculator and don’t know how to tell your parents you need a new one?”

Firstly, don’t lose your calculator. Most backpacks have at least one pocket; stow your machine there when you aren’t using it. If your backpack doesn’t have any pockets, you have school supply procurement disorder and should consult a professional psychologist. Fortunately, LFHS has several of those, so I won’t waste time on that front. Moving on.

Numerous substitutes to the handheld graphing calculator exist. Desmos and Wolfram Alpha are incredibly useful websites that can take a calculator’s place when you have access to the internet. There is a Desmos app available for your chromebook, so you can always use that.

If you need a calculator during class, don’t hesitate to ask your teacher. Most math teachers keep an extra calculator or several on hand for that very reason.

In short, life without a calculator is about being adaptable and using your resources. All humans possess those abilities, so it’s just a question of how disciplined you are in using them.

If you simply cannot adapt to life without a graphing calculator of your own and lack the courage or tact to tell your parents, you likely have confidence issues and might want a psychologist. Remember the school psychologists I mentioned earlier? There are four of them, and they are backed by an army of counselors and deans eager to help you. For my part, I’d recommend gently but firmly telling your parents what happened. Be mature about it. Admit that it was your fault, be genuinely contrite, and any reasonable parent will respect you for it and (probably) get another calculator for you. At least they won’t yell at you. Remember that it is in their best interest for you to do well in school.

And if you find yourself stressing out over your calculator (or any other problem, for that matter), remember to put things in perspective every once in a while. These next few paragraphs should help with that.

You were born on a puny wet dustball in the back end of nowhere. You will (almost certainly) die on a puny wet dustball in the back end of nowhere. You will never be able to kick down a mountain, you will never be able to outrun a pronghorn, and you will never be able to lay eyes on Challenger Deep.

You will never soar unsupported in the free air. You will never glide between the stars in the emptiness of space. You will never journey to the center of the Earth. You see, we humans are frail creatures, wholly insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Nothing that you ever say or do will change the broader universe.

But upon our hearts and minds no bonds are shackled. The aliens may well be able to read your mind, but (for now) they are stuck on view only edit access. In the thickets of the imagination, everything is possible, and totally up to you. You control the aspiration of your life. You decide when to quit and when to stay on. You choose how the children of tomorrow will remember you. Will you be a person who tirelessly championed your “damn fool idealistic crusade,” or will you be a person who gave up and went into hermit mode because you lost a calculator?