Updated: March 15, 2022 9:15:23 am
Hyderabad’s Neelakantha Bhanu Prakash fell in love with numbers at a very young age. It all began at the age of six when Bhanu was recovering from a head injury and was on bed rest for almost a year. To entertain the kid, his parents introduced him to math quizzes and puzzles. While dabbling in quizzes and puzzles, Bhanu later became an expert as he broke several records and was titled as the world’s fastest human calculator after winning the International Maths Olympiad 2020.
The 22-year-old holds four world records and 50 Limca records for his skill in solving complex mathematical problems in minimum time. He has also been dubbed the ‘Usain Bolt of mathematics’ by the BBC after winning the Olympic Gold Medal at the Mind Sports Olympics 2020. However, despite mastering the skill of quick calculations, Bhanu believes that speed calculation is not the only criteria to appreciate numbers.
Talking to indianexpress.com, Bhanu said, “Maths is one of the most dreaded subjects for children mainly because it is not relatable and interesting. One reason for this is the rigid and rhetoric curriculum at the school level which is less humanitarian and more pedagogically driven. Students usually do not find the subject interesting enough to learn willingly.”
Not a believer in speed math
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Despite holding various world records, Bhanu does not like the idea of speed calculations and is a strong opponent of calculation techniques like abacus and Vedic math.
“How numbers are introduced to children is extremely important, because understanding numbers goes a long way in how one thinks. Teaching them quick mental calculation techniques will only help them in cracking a few entrance exams and nothing more. Ramifications of not understanding maths are very profound for people in any walk of life,” said Bhanu.
Bhanu believes that the school curriculum should not just focus on increasing speed, rather should focus on cognitive ability developments by including important parameters like computation, sensory precision, visualisation, working memory among others.
Erasing math phobia
Three out of every four students across the world are scared of maths. Bhanu said building strong relevance and sparking curiosity in students can lead to unprecedented learning outcomes. His goal is to erase maths phobia and make the subject more fun and relatable for people.
To help children shed math fear, Bhanu founded Bhanzu—a math ed-tech startup that aims to build a thought-through math curriculum using personalised AI-aided methodology to build confidence in students by enabling them to apply math in the real world.
“This revolution, I believe, can be achieved by creating the most coherent, cognitive Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven maths learning ecosystem possible. Every student is capable of learning and loving math if it’s taught as something more than just an academic subject. Through Bhanzu, we are on a quest to eradicate math phobia and encourage careers in math and STEM fields among students across the globe,” he added.
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