During one of my bimbles around the South Hams tending the sick(!) I chanced upon a fascinationg programme on Radio 4 about maths in Asian culture. In spite of the advance in electronic gadgetry, the use of the abacus is alive and well in Japan and by acquiring the skill to use this ancient piece of equipment, children learn how to manipulate complex arithmetical problems in seconds. Fractions of a second in some cases once they visualise a virtual abacus in their head and are put in a competitive environment. Abacus contests are a big hit in Japan.
'That would be good to do with Lou,' is a thought that often crosses my mind when I encounter something new. Alas, bad, busy parent that I am, these ideas seldom come to fruition. Don't worry here if you think that my self esteem as a mummy is plummeting. I know that I'm at least keeping up with the majority of you out there who're doing a pretty reasonable job in spite of poo-poohing most of the advice in parenting manuals
And so it was that the idea to introduce abacus skills to Lou came and went. But hurrah! My lovely brother Paul Bernard Harris is visiting at the moment and he must have the ability to read my butterfly mind. For he's bought his nephew a japanese abacus, a Soroban as its know to its Eastern afficionados. There's plenty of advice on how to use it on the Internet and even online competitions. Lou was inspired by watching a clip of children using their abaci and has already started teaching himself the basics courtesy of further YouTube videos. He's so thrilled with this new gadget that his new beady friend has been given pride of place in his bed! It share the limited sleeping space with twenty or so furry companions. I'll try to remember to give updates if he achieves mastery and this new but ancient gadget is not a five minute wonder!