By Richard Blum

My name is Richard Blum and I have been a Pension Actuary for most of my working life. As an Actuary, I have enjoyed studying Mathematics all of my life. During the last 40 years, I have also been a Vedic Mathematics (VM) teacher.

I have demonstrated VM in the typical venues one might expect: public, private and charter schools, to home schoolers, etc. As an indication of the universal appeal of VM, it has also been shown to groups of senior citizens at a local college, to the deaf, at non-profits specializing in getting the unemployed jobs and on-line international workshops. Most recently, I held a class at a prison. The purpose of this article is to describe that experience.

I was listening to a local radio station when I heard an interview regarding an educational program being run at the Tomoka Correctional Institution. The idea behind this program is to have inmates, with a certain level of education, act as teachers to help other inmates get high school equivalency diplomas and generally educate the prison population.  Each one of these teachers is given a group to teach on an ongoing basis. It was apparent to me that giving these teachers at least a rudimentary knowledge of VM could only help their efforts. I contacted the prison, explained that I wanted to come over for a morning and demonstrate several VM techniques. My offer was accepted immediately as learning math in a prison environment is similar to learning math in a regular school scenario; very few can do it.

My schedule was to teach the group of about 20 teacher/inmates from 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM with a 10 minute break each hour. I was cautioned, in advance, of expecting too much from this group. I was told not to do anything that might embarrass anyone, like asking for volunteers to come to the front of the class and explain concepts to assure that they understood what I had just explained. Whenever I teach a class, anytime a participant solves a problem correctly, I always ask the rest of the class to applaud. This too I was cautioned against doing. Needless to say, I ignored all of this advice.

As I started to explain squaring numbers ending in a 5, I got the standard response. They had never seen anything like it before and wanted to see more. As I went from concept to concept they attention was riveted on me. Each time they understood a concept, most of them would put a big smile on their faces and say “I get it. This is great.” To add to their self-esteem, I explained to them that they were now doing math at a very high level and that the speed at which they were doing the problems was probably faster than anyone in the country. This made them feel very good about themselves.

As I stated before, I was to teach from 8:30 to 11:30 in the morning with 10 minute breaks per hour. As it turned out, I taught from 8:30 to 12:30.  with no breaks. Several times the educational supervisor came over and asked them if they needed a break and everyone just wanted to continue. As I was finishing up, the educational supervisor come over to the group and told them that in 30 years of teaching in the prisons, he had never seen any group of inmates sit for 4½ hours without a break. With that, I got a big round of applause and the class ended. The inmates came up to me and thanked me for coming, telling me that the techniques I had showed them would show to their “students.” They also wanted me to come back and show them some more.

From school children to middle aged adults to senior citizens, to the deaf, the blind, to the unemployed and prison inmates, they are all receptive to VM. This is a great time to not only know Vedic Math, but, to the share it with everyone.


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