Mental arithmetic and its relation to pedagogy
Every educator knows how important it is for the students to be concentrated in class, to have excellent logic while solving the problems, good visual memory, imagination when writing a compositions, drawing skills, etc. We can see how mental arithmetic can improve the educational results in the aspects listed below:
The abacus (you can learn more about it here) consists of a rectangular frame, a dividing line and columns with small balls on them - four balls below and one up. There is a special technique for adding balls. Using this technique children develop a great concentration when working with the abacus. Sometimes while we are working we at the same time are thinking about our family, our concerns or our plans for the evening and therefore we are not fully concentrated in what we are doing. Using the abacus people cannot think about anything but the process of adding and removing the tiny balls due to the specific technique involving the hands. That is why they later on develop skills of complete concentration and attention.
FINE MOTOR SKILLS
Ordering the tiny balls on the spokes has been made in a specific ways. Every ball has its own rib and the abacus balls are small enough. In order to learn to calculate fast enough it is necessary for us to put the finger tips onto the ball rib and then to move it. The short and fast movements contribute both for concentration and fine motor skills of the child.
The ball disposition onto the abacus corresponds to a certain number. The images of the ball disposition instantly appear in our brain, so we could memorize it easily. The grater the number is, the more balls have to be moved into the columns. But every finger movement provokes an impulse in the brain (a command). In order to create a greater number, a man has to know the disposition of the balls, corresponding to the definite number. This needs a highly developed photographic memory. That is why the development of this visual memory starts with the one-digit numbers, then the two-digit ones and the three- digit numbers after, etc.
Mental arithmetic relies on many logical formulas. We are going to see the following example: on an abacus spoke there are 4 balls below and one ball above – we start calculating with the intention to add 4 balls to 3 (3 + 4), so how could we do this? There is a logic formula +4 = +5 - 1.
If we want to add 4 balls but we cannot then we have to add 5 and then remove 1. This is how logics and analytical thinking are developed for sure 5-1 also makes 4.
Logics wouldn’t work without the analytical thinking. In order for the analytical thinking to be developed and for the brain to make analysis quickly according to a situation, we have not just one but 38 logical formulas. When a difficult problem to solve appears an analysis should be done and one of the 38 formulas to be chosen – the right one – and to be applied. In this way the brain is thought how to solve the problem logically and correctly. Studying mental arithmetic the child cannot only develop his/her mathematic skills but can also improve his/her grades at school.