Did you know that children - girls as well as boys - can learn to easily multiply 3-digit numbers in their head?
Of course, before achieving this, they first need to learn to count and know addition and subtraction and the basics of multiplication. Then, the magic will happen. With a bit of regular practice, any child can learn to do multi-digit multiplication in their head, beginning with 2-digit numbers, and, as soon they are ready, move on to 3-digit numbers.
The simple and awesome method illustrated in the following Early Learning Quote was invented by George Bidder, an eminent British engineer born in 1806. The late Dr. Michael J.A. Howe, professor of cognitive psychology at Exeter University, recounts in his great book "Genius Explained" that George "began to take a keen interest in mental arithmetic" at the age of six. Not long after that, the boy was able to mentally multiply multi-digit numbers. During a public performance where George was asked to multiply 7,953 by 4,648, he had quickly told the audience that the answer was 36,965,544. But he could solve much more difficult problems. As says Michael Howe, George needed "thirteen minutes to do the enormous mental calculation task of multiplying 257,689,435 by 356,875,649."
13 minutes to multiply two 9-digit numbers? Not bad for a kid!
Some people would like to call it genius. Though, there was probably no innate or miraculous talent behind such a feat. This is rather a perfect example of extraordinary concentration and memory training. And, above all, the demonstration of a profound passion for mathematics and intellectual accomplishment.
Finally, what is so amazing in George Bidder's mental multiplication strategy? Well, Professor Howe summarize it in one single sentence: "all that needs to be retained in memory whilst the computation is proceeding is a single running total."
This ChildUp Early Learning Quote (1/3) is the first of a series of three.
Quotes 2/3 and 3/3 will be posted HERE during the month of October, 2013.