Yesterday we also visited a traditional arts university. It is the equivalent of an Indian Julliard for traditional dance, singing, and visual arts. Before the formation of this school, there was no formal way for the traditional arts to be passed on because they were just taught in informal settings in homes and communities. By formalizing the training, they can make sure that the traditional arts will not be lost to modern culture. It is now possible to get a bachelors, masters, or doctorate degree in traditional arts through this university and we watched students practicing dance and singing. Because the training for these mediums was done informally, the school tried to keep the feel of that and their classrooms are open-air bungalows. This allows for a beautiful setting but it sure was hot and I was glad I didn’t have to practice dance for hours on end!
Then, we came back to the hotel and two really amazing lectures on math or maths as they call it here! In the 1950s, an Indian mathematician revisited The Vedas, ancient Hindu texts, to see what they could offer in terms of mathematical understanding. Traditionally, they were only used for religious or spiritual guidance but this man found mathematical patterns that can be used in classrooms to make simple calculations easier. It was kind of mind boggling to see these “tricks” and I will definitely have to share them with math people when I get back.
Our next lecture was on using an abacus to improve calculation
speed, accuracy, and number sense. Though this seems very old-fashioned, there is a reason these have been used for thousands of years and are still in great use today in much of China. The calculations done on these take a mere fraction of the time. This woman was adding 7- 4 digit numbers in less than the amount of time it took to write them down. It was amazing. They said that kids who are four years old could do calculations like this because they are learning it as a fun game and not as math. I am going to try to learn how to use one so that I can bring back that knowledge. I know that kids in our schools struggle with number sense and it would be great if we could find a fun, nonthreatening way to help them!
These pictures are from the other night when we had another traditional dance program but they illustrate some of the things that the people were learning at the dance school.