[blindkid] Fwd: [LCA] math question

Arielle Silverman arielle71 at gmail.com
Mon May 21 22:42:04 UTC 2012

Hi all,
I did grow up using the abacus, and I used it from kindergarten until
seventh grade when I took pre-algebra. I used a Braille Lite for
pre-algebra, algebra, geometry/trig, pre-calculus and calculus. While
I wrote my answers on the Perkins in elementary school, I never did
actual computations using the Perkins. I am encouraged to see that so
many kids are learning it that way because it seems like doing the
problems on the Perkins does have some advantages. It just seems
really difficult to me, but that's probably just because I never
learned it, much as Braille seems difficult to a sighted person who
has never learned it.
Steve, the left-to-right addition method you described is exactly how
I do mental math. It actually makes a lot more sense to me than
borrowing and carrying, which I never really understood but just
memorized how to do on the abacus. As a blind person who has always
been good at math but bad at spatial reasoning, the left-to-right
method sounds a lot easier and more practical for blind students. But,
again, I can't speak for everyone.
This might be my biased opinion but it does seem like abacus
arithmetic would be faster than writing out problems and all the steps
on the Perkins. Ideally a student would learn both methods and be able
to switch from one to the other depending on what kind of math is
involved, the nature of the assignment (homework or practice problems
vs. a test), the presence or absence of time constraints, noise
considerations with the Perkins, etc. But I'm sure it's not realistic
to expect our frazzled TVI's to teach kids two methods when there's
barely time for just one.

On 5/21/12, Penny Duffy <pennyduffy at gmail.com> wrote:
> Abby loves her abacus.  She can do a lot and as she learns more she is show
> how to use it with the new kind of problems. I question why abacus are not
> taught more commonly to everyone else.  technology isn't everything.
> On Mon, May 21, 2012 at 12:34 PM, Chantel Alberhasky <
> chantel at alberhaskylaw.com> wrote:
>> My 8 year old uses an abacus.  He uses a calculator when the other
>> students are allowed to use one but if they have to do their work using
>> only pen and paper he uses his abacus.  He is rather fast at it and has
>> no
>> difficulty learning how to use it.
>> Chantel L. Alberhasky, Esq
>> 419 Boonville Avenue
>> Springfield, MO 65806
>> 417.865.4444
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>> ________________________________
>>  From: Richard Holloway <rholloway at gopbc.org>
>> To: "Blind Kid Mailing List, (for parents of blind children)" <
>> blindkid at nfbnet.org>
>> Sent: Monday, May 21, 2012 10:23 AM
>> Subject: Re: [blindkid] Fwd: [LCA] math question
>> There are probably a number of good reasons actually, but the one that
>> really jumps out at me is standardized testing.
>> In most (if not all) cases, students cannot use any sort of device which
>> calculates for them. That eliminates electronic (including talking)
>> calculators as well as braillenotes and the like immediately. Since the
>> abacus (as you point out) does not calculate but is just a mechanical
>> system which must be learned and manipulated, it doesn't break that rule.
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> --
> --
> --Penny
> ----------
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