Abacus: Abacus is a great way to do basic arithmetic ,i.e; addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. It’s quite amusing to watch children do quick calculations using abacus.
And if you wish to see your child outperforming others at some stage, at competitions…then, bingo, Abacus could be for you!
However, here the child begins to focus on individual digits of a number rather than look at the whole number as a quantity…thus reducing the status of a number to a telephone number!
Kumon: specifically emphasizes on regular rigorous practice that over-compensates for any lack in understanding.
Look at the practice sheets administered and you will know what we are talking about. One can become pretty meticulous in following algorithms and procedures over time. But these students can continue feeling ill-equipped with the so called ‘out-of-syllabus’ problems. Moreover, is learning Math all about simply following instructions subserviently?
Vedic Math: relies on mathematical identities to do calculations efficiently without getting into the mathematics behind.
So there are specific methods to carry out different types of calculations… For eg; you could learn the Vedic Math technique to calculate say, the square of 9999 in a jiffy…..Feels like magic? Hmm, undoubtedly impressive!
However, it cannot help your child understand math ideas better or more deeply. It cannot equip one apply math ideas/ tools in relevant contexts….simply because it does not help one appreciate math ideas or their contextual relevance.
It does not help develop number sense or ‘estimation/ approximation’ skills which are far more crucial in real life/ work/ business. Anyone in the corporate sector will vouch for that.
The skill is usually taught by trained people who are not mathematicians or Math teachers. One size fits all- is the policy here. The teaching model is rigid and static; not dynamic and adaptive to suit the child’s unique needs. So they cannot kindle love for Math in their audience.
The calculation skill is a part of Mathematics; it is sad and erroneous to see it as ‘Mathematics’. In fact, most mathematicians have no special or extraordinary computational ability.
People using statistics/ applied Math rely on calculators for handling large numbers. After all, what are computers for! But computers cannot think for you, at least, not yet! And even if they could would you want that?
What is needed is people thinking and solving problems mathematically, people having higher order thinking skills. That has to be recognised as the more glorious and real aim of learning Math.
Bottomline: So UCMAS, Brainobrain, Vedic Math are all fine, so long as you recognise the limited purpose they serve.
What have been your experiences with Abacus/UCMAS/Kumon or Vedic Math? Drop us a comment