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The opinion of a professional mathematician regarding Abacus One


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Old 05-07-2012, 12:31 PM   #1
John Nicholson
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The opinion of a professional mathematician regarding Abacus One

W E Hagstone Emeritus Professor (Hull) Of Theoretical Physics



The Abacus


A Simple Teaching Tool of Immense Power



The ABACUS is a superb tool for teaching children the basics of arithmetic. (A further spin-off is that the confidence a child gains from it helps that child also in developing his/her reading skills — as I found whilst using the ABACUS with two of my grandaughters both of whom were dyslexic). It is particularly useful in the form that John Nicholson has developed it — i.e., three columns of plastic counters with ten counters per column. The system is compact, the counters cannot be lost and young children are attracted to it as a playtool.
The simple reason that the ABACUS is so successful as a teaching tool, is that it is a robust, mechanical device which provides children with a concrete realization of all the abstract concepts they meet in arithmetic. In short the child comes ultimately to realize via “playing” with it that all of arithmetic is simply an extended form of counting whether this be for whole numbers (i.e. numbers each of which are usually greater than unity) or for numbers each of which is less than unity (i.e. fractions, decimals and percentages). All of this is attained through the use of the “counters” and “columns” out of which the ABACUS is constructed. The teaching method is breathtakingly simple and the child masters the subject through the brain transferring from the conscious to the unconscious the mechanical procedures associated with sliding “counters” up and down “columns” — i.e. the child develops a mental map. As a result the child moves from “solving” problems in a slow, conscious, mechanical fashion to solving them rapidly in an unconscious fashion — i.e. his/her “mental”arithmetic capabilities rise rapidly and ultimately dominate his/her thinking process because he/she understands exactly the “rules of the game” and why they work. The child also understands exactly what a fraction, a decimal or a percentage means and why you can manipulate them to obtain the solution to any given problem. This depth of understand also means that, in the end, children can teach other children the basics of arithmetic using the ABACUS as the teaching tool.

W.E. Hagston
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Old 06-07-2012, 01:11 AM   #2
John Nicholson
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The earlier that any child is taught systematically the better

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The earlier that any child is taught systematically the better

system one 4 every 1


clearly building layer after layer of vital knowledge at the earliest point possible in any and every child’s life is the one sure way we can assist every child to perfect their reading







Pre-School Age Exercises Can Prevent Dyslexia, New Research Shows
ScienceDaily (Aug. 22, 2008) — Atypical characteristics of children’s linguistic development are early signs of the risk of developing reading and writing disabilities, or dyslexia. New research points to preventive exercises as an effective means to tackle the challenges children face when learning to read.
The results achieved at the Centre of Excellence in Learning and Motivation Research were presented at the Academy of Finland’s science breakfast on 21 August.

Headed by Professor Heikki Lyytinen at the University of Jyväskylä, the research has dug deep into how to predict and prevent difficulties in learning to read and write. The study involved a comparison between 107 children whose either parent is dyslexic and a control group of children without a hereditary predisposition to dyslexia. The researchers followed intensively the development of the predisposed children, from their birth through to school age.
“Half of the children whose parents had difficulties in reading and writing found learning to read more challenging than children in the control group. The atypical characteristics of these children’s linguistic development indicated the risk at a very early stage, and we were also able to draw a clearer picture of the typical progression of a development that indicates reading and writing difficulties,” says Lyytinen.
According to Lyytinen, the predictors of reading and writing difficulties are evident primarily in two contexts: on the one hand as a delayed ability to perceive and mentally process the subtleties of a person’s voice, on the other hand as a sluggishness in naming familiar, visually presented objects. When approaching the age when they acquire the ability to read, the children seem to have more difficulties than expected to store in their memory the names and corresponding sounds of letters.
“Acquiring the ability to read demands much more practice from these children than from their peers. The automatisation of reading poses an additional challenge. Also, a fluent ability to read is a prerequisite to be able to understand a demanding piece of text,” says Lyytinen. “A slow reader isn’t able to grasp a given text as a whole, and therefore has a hard time following the storyline. This is why we should pay special attention not only to the accuracy of reading and writing but also to the comprehension of texts even with quite long sentences.”
Computer game to aid learning
The difficulties children experience when learning to read can be significantly reduced through training – “and in a way that children find amusing, even if they do have difficulties in learning to read,” Lyytinen points out.
The CoE in Learning and Motivation Research has developed computer game-like learning environments to aid preventive training, and made them available on the internet free of charge. They are especially recommended for children with a perceived risk of developing reading and writing disabilities or who have had a hard time learning to read already in first grade.
“The best time to start these exercises is the latter part of the pre-school age, but it’s not too late even after the children have started school. The learning result, of course, improves with repeated training: more than once a day and in short sessions. The optimal time for a single playing session is however long the children find it enjoyable.”
Researchers at the CoE in Learning and Motivation Research have made good use of a wide range of scientific disciplines in creating the learning environment. Apart from psychology, the exercises include elements from phonetics, mathematics and information technology. This has allowed the researchers to make the learning environment more effective than traditional educational games.
With funding from the Ministry of Education and in collaboration with researchers of the Niilo Mäki Institute, the researchers at the CoE are also working to create constantly-developing, game-like exercises as well as tools with which to identify risks and detect learning disabilities.
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