by Michael Wang
Abacus is a calculating tool widely used during ancient years in market activities in many countries, especially in Asia. One of the major calculating skills evolved from Abacus is Mental Arithmetic which enables me to do the calculations mentally without the help of a practical tool.
Nowadays, people count on computer to do all kinds of simple or complex calculations. Even kids of our ages do not do that much calculation practicing in math because calculators can do faster and correctly. Unfortunately, if you think we learn Abacus and Mental Arithmetic just to do calculations only, it is a misleading concept of why we learn it. I have learned this old but charming technique since I was 6 years old. I hope to share my learning experience with others and also share the right purpose of learning them.
I had my first impression of Abacus when I was small and my sister was already in the Abacus beginner class. The little beads inside the rectangle looked fascinating. For young kids, "the thumb of rule" is quite simple. The bottom beads represent 1, 2, 3, and 4. The top bead represents 5. Each space after the dot on the abacus represents the ones place, tens place, hundreds place, thousands place, and so on. When I got older, I "played" with it under my teacher's instructions and got familiar with it swiftly. Over the 5 years of learning, I have had no calculating problems in my math class. I believe the calculating skills have powered up my strength in math too. I am currently one the top 3 students in math class. I am not afraid of math anymore. Math is more pleasurable now with the confidence of my solid calculation base.
Abacus and Mental Arithmetic not only benefit me in math, it also helps me to focus on other areas. Abacus and Mental Arithmetic training are not just about "doing it correctly", but also "doing it quickly". I learned to focus with the coordination of my mind and hands. I got better and solved new problems faster. I am always ready to face new challenges without hesitation. I have applied the training to my other classes such as Science, Art, Music and Sports. As a result, Abacus and Mental Arithmetic are not only used as calculation tools, but also ways to make use of our brain cells and to brighten them up.
One thing I forgot to mention is that the practice takes time and therefore I need to give up some of my video game time to work on the Abacus and Mental Arithmetic homework. A few times, I was upset due to that reason. But, when I progressively passed several evaluation levels, I felt that I had achieved something while sacrificing another thing. Learning Abacus and Mental Arithmetic is fun, sometimes frustrating, but most of all, it is full of surprises, such as knowing what the limit is that we can achieve. I will keep trying my best to create new records with no regrets.
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