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  • Writer's pictureDinesh Lahoti

No to Tricks, Yes to Understanding

Internet is full of videos showing the tricks and shortcuts. There is a craze for “Speed Mathematics” (solving a numerical in the shortest time) Most students, teachers as well parents love the idea of knowing tricks and shortcuts.

Well, if you or your student is focusing on knowing the trick then I and many other educators around the globe feel that learning mathematics by tricks is a trick played on your student’s understanding. Yes, we should not limit our children to just knowing the trick, rather should encourage them to understand the WHY of the trick. Understanding why a trick works opens up the door for a better understanding of the concept and at the same time empower students to explore deeper aspects of mathematics

Yes, say no to tricks, say yes to learning by understanding and only by understanding

Let me take an example to explain the above point. Do you know the multiplication table of 19?

Well, many of us don’t and it's not required to know as well. Let me help you with it.

Let me write some of the multiples-

19 x 1 = 19

19 x 2 = 38

19 x 3 = 57

19 x 4 = 76

Can you observe any pattern? Can you complete the table? (Try it before the next step)

I am sure most of you have decoded the pattern in table of 19. The unit digit is decreasing by one and the tens digit is increasing by 2.

Isn’t it WOW?

Well Mathematics is WOW, but the beauty lies in knowing the HOW and WHY of it

Let’s try to understand WHY this pattern works. Increasing 2 in tens place means an increase of 20 and decreasing 1 in one’s place means decreasing the number by 1. So, basically, we are increasing 19 as 20 -1

Knowing WHY a pattern works, unlocks more possibilities. If you have understood the above, how about trying a multiplication table of 29 or 39 or even maybe 99?

Try it and I am sure you will be happy to decode all of them and that's the beauty when you focus on Understanding. So next time you see a trick, try to decode the why of the trick too.

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