When Nischal Narayanam had difficulty understanding three-dimensional objects in mathematics (most of us would remember that teachers would draw cubes and cuboids and spheres on boards in geometry classes), he asked his mother to get him models for better understanding. His mother scoured the markets, but could not find any. So Nischal made his own models. At the time he was a 9-year-old studying in class V.
“Around that time, his father brought home a financial statement of our sugar business — Nischal spotted a mistake in that,” recalls his mother, Dr Padmavati, who spotted something unique in her son.
Today Nischal is 17. He is also a Guinness world record-holder for memorising the most number of random objects (225) and the most numbers memorised in a minute (132, that too binary numbers). He is doing his BCom and is a CA student. So when he tells you that it is his mission to convert the fear of math to joy, you may trust him.
Reports say that 65 per cent of students get the shivers when they hear the word ‘math’. But at Nischal’s Smart Learning Solutions, where he is mentor, you can see kids who have been trained to shred fiery mathematical knots to pieces in seconds: 24×56… 1344: pop comes the answer… no fear whatsoever. One thinks it’s magic.
The means are different — either abacus or vedic mathematics. But your fear of the subject is zero. As part of his mission to rid children of mathphobia, Nischal’s Smart Learning Solutions will conduct math enhancement programmes for students from class I to X during Dussera vacations. With the help of math lab that a younger Nischal developed), trainees conduct sessions in math, vedic mathematics, abacus and chess.
Chess? “Many eminent mathematicians played chess well. John Nunn was a mathematician and a grandmaster,” says Lanka Rao, international chess master. “Albert Einstein was a good chess player, too.”
Nischal’s methods have ardent fans in many eminent people. One among them is P Ramanachari, the former head of department for maths in Hyderabad Public School, who is now senior trainer in Nischal’s institute. “I was immensely impressed when I first saw their models and their applications,” he says. “I wish we had these much earlier.”
In Nischal’s world, math is not scary — there’s no need to mug up — but an absolute joy.