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Top 5 Mental Math Methods in the World
Today, you can define mental arithmetic in different ways. Some would say that memorizing the multiplication table and memorizing solutions can be part of mental math. Some would say that the ability to perform simple calculations in your head can be mental arithmetic.
The web dictionary defines mental mathematics as “Calculate an exact answer without using pencil and paper or other physical aids.”
Today, there are five methods available for learning and practicing mental math.
Let’s start with the first one called “Learning by heart” or better known as rote memorization method where your teachers ask you to grind boring times tables. This not only kills the child’s interest in math, but also ensures that he develops hatred towards the subject for the rest of the years he studies it. This system gives its avid follower some success initially as it is able to tackle easy issues, but then when the supposedly bigger application issues arise, the steam is almost over.
The second gives you a good degree of success and I highly recommend it for younger kids. It originated in China and is popular as The Abacus (also known as Soroban in Japan). An abacus is a calculating tool, often constructed as a wooden frame with beads sliding on wires. With the use of this tool, one can easily perform calculations related to addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Little by little we practice with the tool in hand and later when we are experienced we learn to do it without the tool. This tool is then mentally inserted into the mind and it can then add, subtract, multiply and divide in seconds. This tool also improves a child’s concentration levels.
The main disadvantage of this system is that it only focuses on the 4 mathematical operations. Concepts beyond these operations such as algebra, square roots, cubes, squares, calculus and geometry etc. cannot be solved using it. In addition, it takes more time to be able to fully understand the system. Therefore, you see courses in the abacus spanning more than 2 years, leading to the child becoming bored and then dropping out of the course.
Another Chinese system mainly taken from the book The nine chapters on the mathematical art outlines an approach to mathematics that focuses on finding the most general methods of problem solving. Entries in the book usually take the form of a statement of a problem, followed by the statement of the solution, and an explanation of the procedure that led to the solution.
The methods explained in this system can hardly be called mental and they lack speed to top it off. The Chinese were certainly the most advanced in civilization thanks to the Yangtze and Yellow rivers but if I had to choose between the two methods given by this culture it would be the abacus.
While wars have a 99.99% downside, sometimes they can also have an upside because they give birth to stories of hope and creativity. The following mental arithmetic system was developed during World War II in the Nazi concentration camp by a Ukrainian mathematician Jakow Trachtenberg to keep his mind busy. What resulted is now known as the Trachtenberg Speed System of Mathematics and consists of rapid mental methods for doing mathematics.
The system consists of a number of easily memorized models that allow arithmetic calculations to be performed very quickly. It has wider applications than the Abacus and apart from the four basic methods of operation, it covers squares and square roots.
The method mainly focuses on multiplication and even gives patterns for multiplication by a particular number, for example 5, 6, 7 and even 11 and 12. It then gives a general quick multiplication method and a special two-finger method. After practicing the method myself, I realized that multiplication was a very applicable mental method, but the other methods covered for solving division and square roots were not very user-friendly and impossible to do mentally. I was looking for a much healthier method where I could easily perform other operations as well. Another disadvantage of this system was that, like the abacus, it also did not have a broader scope, i.e. to encompass other fields like algebra, calculus, trignometry, cubic roots, etc.
A recommendation from a friend of mine from America introduced me to what is called the Kumon mathematical method. It was founded by Japanese educator Toru Kumon in the 1950s and as of 2007 over 4 million children were studying the Kumon method in over 43 different countries.
Students do not work together as a class but progress through the program at their own pace, progressing to the next level when they have mastered the previous level. It sometimes is to repeat the same set of worksheets until the student achieves a satisfactory grade within a specified time. At North American Kumon Centers, the math curriculum begins with very basic skills, such as pattern recognition and counting, and progresses to increasingly difficult subjects, such as numeracy, probability and statistics. . The Kumon method does not cover geometry as a separate subject, but provides sufficient geometry practice to meet the prerequisites of trigonometry, which is covered in the Kumon math curriculum.
I was very impressed by the glamor around Kumon, but a glimpse of his program left me deeply disappointed. It’s not mental at all. It does not offer any special method to do math and one does not improve one’s speed by doing Kumon Math. There is a set of worksheets that one does until one masters the subject. For example, say a sheet on division – one would continue to do division by the conventional method until he got a satisfactory score, then he would move on to a higher level. It certainly does not speed up the division and the process is certainly not mental.
Careful consideration of the reason for its enormous popularity in America has led me to conclude that there was no franchise business model for the abacus and the Trachtenberg speed system in the 1950s. was essential to follow the course from one country to another. This is where Toru Kumon thrived.
Disappointed with other world cultures, my research made me look into my own Indian culture. What I found amazed and amazed me so much that I fell in love with the system and started training neighborhood students in it.
It is easily the fastest mental math system in the world called Vedic High Speed Math. It has its roots in the ancient Indian scriptures called Vedas meaning ‘the source of knowledge’. With it, not only can you add, subtract, multiply or divide, which is the limiting factor of the abacus, but you can also solve complex mathematics such as algebra, geometry, calculus and trigonometry. Some of the most advanced, complex and arduous problems can be solved using the method of Vedic mathematics with extreme ease.
And all this with only 16 word formulas written in Sanskrit.
High Speed Vedic Mathematics was founded by Swami Sri Bharati Krishna Tirthaji Maharaja who was the Sankaracharya (highest order monk) of Govardhan Matha in Puri between 1911 and 1918. They are called “Vedic” because the sutras are contained in the Atharva Veda – a branch of mathematics and engineering in ancient Indian scriptures.
High Speed Vedic Mathematics is much more systematic, simplified and unified than the conventional system. It is a mental computational tool that encourages the development and use of intuition and innovation, while giving the student plenty of flexibility, pleasure and satisfaction . For your child, that means giving them a competitive edge, a way to optimize their performance, and giving them an edge in math and logic that will help them shine in the classroom and beyond.
Hence, it is straightforward and easy to implement in schools – one reason behind its huge popularity among academics and students. It completes the mathematics curriculum traditionally taught in schools by acting as a powerful verification tool and go to save precious time in exams.
The Trachtenberg method is often compared to Vedic mathematics. In fact, even some of the multiplication methods are surprisingly similar. The Trachtenberg system comes closest to the Vedic system in comparison and ease of methods. But the ease and mental solvency of the other method, especially division, square roots, cube roots, algebraic equations, trigonometry, calculus, etc., clearly give an advantage to the Vedic system. Even NASA would use some of these methods applications in the field of artificial intelligence.
There are only 16 Vedic mathematical sutras or word formulas that one must practice to be effective in the Vedic mathematical system. Sutras or word math formulas such as vertically and crosswise, all from nine and last from ten help solve complex problems easily and a single formula can also be applied in two or more fields at the same time. The vertically and transversely formula is one of those gems through which one can multiply, find squares, solve simultaneous equations and find the determinant of a matrix at the same time.
If either of these methods are learned at an early age, a 14-year-old student can easily perform lightning-fast calculations on their exams and pass them.
Vedic mathematics is rapidly gaining popularity during this millennium. It is considered the only mental arithmetic system suitable for a child as it helps to develop their numerical and mental abilities. The methods are new and practical and only teach quick mental math.
The system does not focus on learning by repetition as in the Kumon method. The system focuses on improving intelligence by teaching the fundamentals and alternative methods. The goal is not just to improve performance in school or on tests, but to provide a broader perspective resulting in improved mathematical intelligence and mental acuity.
To know more about the Vedic Mathematics Sutras – The World’s Fastest Mental Calculation System, you can visit http://www.vedicmathsindia.org
This article is by Gaurav Tekriwal, Chairman of Vedic Maths Forum India, who has been running high-speed Vedic Math workshops for five years and has trained over seven thousand students across the world in this subject. He is the author of the best-selling DVD on the subject which contains more than 10 hours on the subject. He is an expert in the field and is revolutionizing the way children learn math.
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