Abacus is an instrument that was invented some 3000 years ago primarily in China, which later spread through countries like Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, etc. It was used in ancient times for calculating numbers through the Basic Arithmetic System. It has now been proven as a ‘Whole Brain Development’ tool over the last two decades. Abacus became popular over the world after being transformed from a calculating instrument into a ‘Holistic Brain Development System’, in addition, to make learning Math easy and effective.
History Of Abacus
The word Abacus comes from a Greek word ‘abax’ or ‘abakon’ meaning ‘tabular form’, possibly derived from a Semitic word ‘abq’ or ‘sand’. It is the most primitive form of calculating device, invented somewhere between 300-500 BC. Abacus has traveled a long way and had transitions as it traveled through different countries. The Suanpan, one of the modern age Chinese abacus had 2/5 decks, but due to its complexity was replaced by Soroban abacus, a Japanese abacus, that was modified by a famous mathematician Seki Kowa. He removed one bead each from upper and lower decks to make it 1/4 decks, i.e., The abacus we use today, the Soroban abacus.
It gained popularity with the whole World competing on a common platform after Globalization. It had an impact on the education system of different nations.
Abacus enhances the overall comprehension of Math and Boosts better and faster calculation skills and improves problem-solving abilities. It would be easy to say abacus training become an essential element of learning Mental Math.
Research On Abacus
Abacus, the ancient calculating device has attracted educationists and scientists equally. Probably, the reason could be its advent almost 3000 years back and the simplicity it provided to calculate the complex numerical needs of that generation. The magical speed and accuracy that an Abacus user showed became a subject of research for the scientists of the 20th century.
The studies have shown that the abacus method of mental calculation is effective in the development of the right brain. Initially, this idea was only a hypothesis.
The recent development of high-tech machinery has helped provide tangible research and support data to the above hypothesis. In this section, let us acquaint ourselves with the information available from the eminent researchers who studied the effects of abacus training on children. We can credit the study of the effects of Abacus training on the human brain to these 3 scholars and scientists, namely Dr. Toshio Hayashi, Prof. Shizuko Amaiwa and Ms. Kimiko Kawano.
Development of Human Brain
This cerebral neocortex does not fully function at the time of birth. This is why children grow up well in many aspects if they receive appropriate stimuli that develop the nerve cells in the neocortex.
Nerve cells in the neocortex consist of 14 billion sets of motor nerves and sensory nerves.
We can activate the nerve cells by providing “stimuli”.
Moving fingers and talking aloud lead to activation by providing appropriate stimuli in the large part of sensory to motor domains in the cerebral neocortex.
In this sense, starting abacus learning as young as possible is useful in activating the brains of young children.
If they come to like learning the abacus and move the beads on the abacus with fun, they will receive benefits from this experience. There is a key in making abacus-learning fun for young children so that they will grow to like it…. Dr. Toshio Hayashi, Doctor of Engineering Professor, Osaka Prefecture University, Director, Research Institute for Advanced Science and Technology (RIAST)
Development Of The Right Brain By The Abacus Method Of Mental Calculation
The human brain consists of the right brain and the left brain.
The Left Brain is also referred to as the digital brain. It controls reading and writing, calculation, and logical thinking. It controls three-dimensional sense, creativity, and artistic sense.
Right Brain & Dementia, we need to develop an education system that would train the students’ Right Brain first. In addition, it is also found that if one trains the right brain, it is less likely to get dementia.
In the abacus method of mental calculation, the learners manipulate abacus beads in their heads to carry out a calculation. This had led us to speculate that this operation was effective in training the right brain. Nowadays, it is called a Mental Math.
The development of cerebral physiology and machines accurately measure the amount of blood flow in the brain, recent studies have proven that the abacus method of Mental Calculation is extremely effective in activating the right brain.
Completion of abacus learning ensures mastery of the Mental Calculation.
Dr. Toshio Hayashi, Doctor of Engineering Professor, Osaka Prefecture University, Director, Research Institute for Advanced Science and Technology (RIAST)
The Improvement Of Numerical Memory
Abacus students are found to be superior in the accuracy of their memory and the number of digits they are able to memorize when compared with non-abacus learners of the same age. This is because abacus students place numbers on the abacus image in their heads as they mentally calculate with the abacus method. The retention of the numbers is certain.
Ms. Shizuko Amaiwa, Professor, Shinshu University, Faculty of Education.
To acquire the ability to calculate rapidly and accurately and to calculate mentally.
One of the advantages of the abacus training is that learners can calculate simple mathematical problems rapidly and accurately. In addition, they acquire the ability to do mental calculation utilizing the abacus image, which allows quick calculation without actually using the abacus.
These characteristics show positive ripple effects on the solution of various mathematical problems. On the other hand, the Non-Abacus learners' calculation methods become fixed, and the students tend to lack flexibility in thinking out innovative ways to solve problems…
…some measures must be taken to keep the learners from being bored since the repetition of simple procedures is often accompanied by boredom…
Ms. Shizuko Amaiwa, Professor, Shinshu University, Faculty of Education
Verbal Thinking And Image Processing (Visualization)
Usually, ordinary people calculate in their mind using inner voice, as in one hundred minus 7 is 93…
What is important is that the ability to visualize can be put to use for other subjects and behaviors…
The ability developed by abacas can be used effectively in different ways.
..for the beginners, abacus learning is useful to easily grasp images in addition and subtraction problems, because the beads are moving in front of their eyes. It also allows understanding the decimal system…
Ms. Kimiko Kawano, Researcher, Nippon Medical School, Center for Informatics and Sciences
Realizing the need of the hour, Mastermind soon stepped into providing abacus education solutions to children through its exclusive Abacus Training Programs.
Our team of experts during live research concluded that the entire abacus training system had various flaws. To name a few:
1. Variant calculating systems in schools and abacus classes.
2. Monotonous methods of teaching.
3. Lack of interest among students beyond the third level etc.
The above only resulted in students opting out of the abacus training program mid-way. Hardly 10 % of students actually graduated through all 10 levels.
Mastermind through its vast network of Abacus franchisee across the world serves a large number of students, which is increasing every hour. For its quality services and educational solutions, the company has gained immense appreciation from the education fraternity.
A Glimpse Of Our Development
To ensure superior Abacus Learning programs for students, Mastermind Abacus has developed techniques syncing with the latest technology keeping intact the sanctity of the Abacus Method. Our developed techniques understand the child’s psychology, so as to give them a joyful experience through the 2 and a half years of Abacus training. Our program overcomes flaws that were encountered with the available Abacus Training Systems. Here is a brief description of our developments:
1. Mastermind Abacus School Curriculum Based Calculating Systems: All Abacus programs widely follow the same pattern in which the calculations are done left to right whereas, the schools teach calculations from right to left. This creates a conflict, making it difficult for children to adapt to the varying patterns.
Our Abacus program (unlike the other abacus companies) has been developed in synchronization with the methods taught in schools. We do not believe in complicating the subject by confusing the child; rather make it simplified and friendly.
2. Mastermind Abacus Speed Building Software (Online Abacus Game): Professor of Shinshu University has stated that certain measures should be taken while training kids on an abacus as the repetition of simple methods are accompanied by boredom.
The above finding seems to be true as the Abacus course is designed for the duration of 2 to 2.5 Years, during which the children have to keep practicing regularly that makes it repetitive, ultimately resulting in dropouts. Whereas, our Speed Building Software, a game based video program promotes the regular practice as it is perceived by the trainees more as a video game than study. This does not allow monotony to creep in. Hence, dropouts are rare with Mastermind Abacus.
Dr. Toshio Hayashi, Professor, Osaka Prefecture University, Director, Research Institute for Advanced Science and Technology (RIAST), also suggests that if children come to like learning the abacus and move the beads on the abacus with fun, they will receive benefits from this experience.
Our software has been designed specifically to promote practicing abacus. It creates an environment of playing a video game, without making the child realize that he/she is actually solving complex abacus problems.
3. Mastermind Abacus Online Exams: Realizing that for attempting National and State level exams, students and their parents have to travel huge distances which sometimes becomes difficult and inconvenient.
So, our development team created software facilitating online exams for Abacus. This gives accurate, error-free and real-time results. This prepares the children for online exams that will be the most preferred means of conducting exams in future.
4. Mastermind Abacus Virtual Abacus: Our development team also felt that there was a huge gap in demand and supply of well-qualified trainers in the ever-increasing market of the abacus. Therefore, they developed Virtual Abacus, the software which emulates the original abacus both in looks and operations.
This software is like a 24/7 master guide available to the teachers and trainers to ensure perfect Abacus training that solves the problems entered and gives the correct answer with proper movement of hands and fingers.
The positive effects of Abacus training on children have been well accepted by the education fraternity at large. The coming days will see more research papers with supportive findings to encourage the generations to come.