Oral Mathematics A story of bygone days

Shiv Kumar Padha
The lives of human beings, besides their basic necessities, solely depended upon the communication and minor calculation ever since they started living in a society and shared collective and interdependent living with each other.
They needed language to communicate with each other verbally or in writing. In the beginning their communications with each other depended mainly either on gestures or verbal communication, similarly they managed their domestic affairs by performing ordinary calculations with the help of tally marks or by one to one matching. Gradually the communications and the calculations became more complex and complicated day by day, the need for keeping the record of long and important communications and the calculations became the necessity of the society. It is rightly said that the necessity is the mother of invention which resulted into the development of numerals and alphabets in different languages which made the long communications and calculations easy.
India has remained a home for the mathematicians from ancient times till twentieth century which gave mathematicians like Arya Bhatt the father of mathematics in India, Bhaskaracharya an outstanding mathematician who discovered principles of differential calculus. Srinivasa Ramanjum the king of Maths in India known for his contributions for working on analytical theory of numbers. Arya Bhatt gave the world digit ‘0’ for which he became immortal. Arya Bhatta credited with developing the integer version, also developed the concept of place value. The name of Shankuntla Devi a human computer defeated the super computer in making the calculations faster. The name of the google boy is worth mentioning here who solves all the mathematical problems orally without the help of copy pencil or any electronic gadget either. All the greatest mathematicians used their mental faculties to make the calculation in their individual way.
For making the concept of mathematics more clear we can divide the mathematical calculations in three categories’ namely Oral, written and the digital.
Oral Mathematics
Oral work in mathematics is the backbone of not only written work but of works in mathematics. It develops mental alertness and quick thinking. It is a good technique because it develops alertness, the readiness of mind, quick hearing and quick thinking. It is very effective in the initial stage because it leaves an indelible impact upon the cognitive domain i.e knowledge, understanding and application aspects of the child. Till seventies there was more emphasis on the oral mathematics in the schools where the students were asked to memories the tables of 2 through 20 which helped the children performing all the four operations liken addition, subtraction, division and multiplications. In the beginning the students in the lower classes were taught the numbers writing on the ground with the help of a stick. The students were asked to perform the calculations by using their fingers. They were trained to solve the long and complicated mathematical operations either orally or on finger tips. The concept of the basic operations of mathematics enabled the children to perform the additions, subtraction division and multiplications in their social life, in the market places while shopping or calculating the areas volumes orally. The concept of the number system, their place and face values, decimal system, classification of numbers into prime and composite one, difference between digits, numbers and whole numbers gets fixed in their minds which stand in good stead in their later studies and life where they need not depend up[on the copy pencil or a calculator for minor calculations. We have seen how the shop keepers calculate the cost of each sold item orally and speak out the total amount of the bill before the last item is packed.
But these days we find our modern generation most of them incapable of making quick calculation with out using their calculators provided in their mobiles. The habit of using copy pencil and the electronic gadget like calculator have paralyzed their mental faculty making small calculations and computations, whereas the illiterate, less qualified masons, shop keepers vendors and the peasants are adept in making calculations needed in their professions. The well educated modern youth sometimes fail to calculate the areas of the floors, volumes of the heaps of sand and bajri with out the help of an illiterate professional.
No body can deny the importance of the written and digital mathematics in the present age where long and complicated problems are encompassing the whole world. The modern age is the age of quick computations and decisions where no body or nation can compromise with the progress and development without using the modern system of calculations and computations.
It is admitted that the Oral mathematics is the fore runner of written and digital mathematics upto the primary stage.