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I think calculators for interest calculations makes a lot of sense. I'd be pretty impressed by students doing P(1 + r/M)^N without a calculator, though I suppose you could do repeated tedious multiplications of P*(long decimal number). We definitely used calculators for that 20 years ago.

Well, that particular exercise was something like: You have $P and the interest rate is I% per month, what would you have after 1 month, 2 months etc. It was easily doable at the level that exercise required by hand. However yes, if the formula had been more complicated then calculators would've made sense. From talking to the teachers though, the sense I got at the time was that calculators were never restricted regardless of the difficulty or ease of the exercise.

EDIT: Did mention complex interest, that part made sense to use the calculator for. My observation was merely attempting to point out the ubiquity of the calculator in the classroom. I'd be interested to see the capability of students after a curriculum like that at doing mental and hand calculations, my understanding is that here in Georgia the various classwide exams they take also permit calculators so the students would have little occasion to demonstrate that skillset.

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