Response by Alex Greene

This is Alex Greene ‘s response to the earlier question. He posted it as a comment but I thought I would share this with everybody as a post.

I might counter argue with the question: why do we teach mathematics to children at all?

If you answered “To get good grades,” or “To get them a job when they’re older,” get to the bottom of the class.

We teach mathematics, like writing, because we are equipping children with the most basic of problem-solving skills. Mathematicians aren’t just people who sit in offices in university and scribble nonsense on a board. Mathematicians solve problems.

The tools of basic mathematics we teach children in schools – arithmetic, basic algebra – are tools we are obliged to give them to help them to solve the problems they will face in life.

What sorts of problems? Calculating a weight of a roast in kilos when you’re given it in pounds and ounces and you need to work out how many minutes to put the meat in the oven for.

Say, that joint will take 265 minutes to cook in the oven. Maths will tell you what 265 minutes means in hours: in this case, 4 hours, 25 minutes.

How about working out how much change you get from £20 when you’ve bought a latte and a sandwich worth £4.25? If you get less than £15.75, you’re being short changed.

What about architecture? Someone clears out a square plot of land 999 metres a side. How quickly can you work out that it is 998,001 square metres without a calculator or sheet of paper?

In a similar vein, if you had to multiply 112 x 999, how quickly can you come up with 111,888?

Because mathematics can be found in every part of life, from finances through to cooking, gardening, medicine (Quick! You have 30 tablets. You take two a day. How many days before you have to go back to refill your prescription?) and even romance (“The wedding ring cost /how much?”) it’s vital to teach children … and adults … the best tool with which to solve these little problems.

Mathematics is that tool – but why Vedic mathematics in particular? Because VM is probably the most efficient form of that tool yet to be devised. It is quicker than the mathematical methods taught in schools since the 17th Century, with proofs which are just as rigourous, and moreover it produces quick, accurate results in a fraction of the time.

So rather than think of the grades the kids can get if you teach them VM, think of their lives as adults and the problems they’ll face, which they’ll be able to solve in their heads, thanks to VM.

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