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Learning math the Vedic way

June 2006
Learning math the Vedic way

Using Vedic math to promote effective teaching in schools may seem like a quixotic – even irrelevant – quest in the 21st century. But Vedic math, in this context, is not some abstruse subject from the distant past, and it's not meant to replace contemporary math. More than anything, it can be seen as a technique for learning. So say the proponents of Vedic math when offering a solution to falling grades and, worse, flagging interest in American schools. Fourth graders in the U.S. ranked 12th out of 35 nations in math scores, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, while eighth graders ranked 15th out of 45 nations. The percentage of Americans earning math-based college degrees, as per the census figures, remains much lower than in some Asian countries. Not surprisingly, this has caused growing concern in the U.S. Kenneth Raymond Williams, a Vedic math expert who has authored several books, is the chief academic officer of Socratic Solutions, a supplemental education company that operates the nationwide Math Monkey Knowledge Centers.

��� "Rather than drilling students with rote memorization of standard math formulas, we teach students how to learn basic math through the use of ancient Indian math concepts," he explains. "We base the Math Monkey curriculum on Vedic math, which was rediscovered in the early 1900s. What makes Vedic math a strong supplement for standard classroom instruction is that it teaches children how to figure out math problems in their heads. For example, after just a few minutes of instruction, students will be able to give change for $1 or $10." The idea of using a strong oral tradition at an early age is to make learning fun and, hopefully, inculcate a lifelong enthusiasm for the subject. Williams adds that this easy-to-learn method can be used to check one's work and improve grades.

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