Meet Gaurav Tekriwal: The Chieftain of the Unconventional Field of Vedic Math
Mathematics in India goes back to the Indus Valley Civilisation. Indians gave to Mathematics the zero, the decimal system, the place value system, the value of Pi, algebra, calculus, geometry; the list goes on. Even in the modern age, India continues to give to the world various tips and techniques to make Mathematics more evolved and easier to work with.
One such field is Vedic Mathematics. Do not be put off beat by the term Vedic; it has nothing to do with the Hindu religion, or any other religion for that matter. It simply refers to the mention of Mathematical tips and tricks in the Hindu Vedas. The book, Vedic Mathematics, was written by a high-ranking cleric, Bharati Krishna Tirthaji, and was first published in 1965.
Vedic Math is a mental calculation system that renders the learners the ability to perform Mathematical problems faster and quicker than the average. Vedic Maths has been in existence for ages, but it is only recently that the world is realizing its potential and application.
Recognizing this very dynamism of Vedic Math, Gaurav Tekriwal founded the Vedic Maths Forum India. It’s been 13 years now and he is still going strong. He even delivered a TED talk recently. We wanted to know more about him and his work.
So we asked him about the road less taken, and he answered. Here is a heart to heart with Gaurav Tekriwal.
1. What is the aim of Vedic Maths Forum?
The aim and mission of our organization is to make students love mathematics through vedic mathematics.
2. How has online education (WizIQ) help you realize that aim?
Online Education with WizIQ is the backbone of our organization. It has helped us achieve our aim and objective of promoting love for mathematics through Vedic Mathematics.
With the virtual classroom which WizIQ provides, we have been able to take this mental calculation system to countries where we otherwise wouldn’t have even thought of going. WizIQ has helped us make our organization Global by erasing boundaries. So far we have our presence in over ten countries and it has been made possible only through WizIQ.
3. How do people outside India receive Vedic Math generally?
There is still a lot of awareness which needs to be created about Vedic Mathematics globally. People do not know that such a system exists which could help them with their math. But having said that, those people who know about it recommend it to their children and they simply fall in love with it. They remark that why weren’t they taught this in school before, as it would have made their lives a lot easier.
Globally we are witnessing a critical decline in numeracy skills. Our children struggle with their math, and parents along with them as well. Governments and Departments of Education worldwide are struggling with making math fun and exciting for the children. In such a scenario Vedic math becomes very suitable and just right for them.
4. How would you predict the future of Vedic Maths worldwide?
Vedic Maths is increasingly getting popular worldwide but it is yet to reach a tipping point.
Let me state few points for you:
It is estimated that in the UK, 17 million adults have the mathematics capabilities of an 11 year old or younger. (Source: The Telegraph, UK)
9-10 year olds and 13-14 year olds in the United States continue to lag behind several East Asian and European nations in Maths. (Source: The New York Times)
In India in 2012, 46.5% of children in Class V could not solve a two-digit subtraction problem without seeking help. (Source: The Pratham Report)
South Africa ranks second last in the world for education in Mathematics. (Source: World Economic Forum)
Currently we are witnessing a global maths crisis where we are experiencing low numeracy levels across countries. Students and teachers are looking for alternative solutions in Mathematics. In such a grim scenario, Mental Maths Skills can be useful to students as there is more than one way to reach a correct answer in mathematics.
And this is the scope of Vedic Mathematics and the demand side of it. There are more than 200 countries on this planet and everybody out there needs it!
5. What is the message that Vedic Maths Forum wants to give to the world?
There can be more than one method to solve a problem and arrive at an answer. Instead of making maths which the children love to hate, why can’t we make the math which the children love to learn?
6. How has technology helped alleviate your efforts?
Technology has made it simple for us to take this system from India to the World with minimal efforts through Virtual Classrooms. Ten years back we were restricted to our own city. But now thanks to WizIQ we think we can take this beautiful system to students even on Planet Mars!
It has certainly brought down our operating cost, given us more visibility through MOOCs, thereby giving us more credibility with our clients too.
7. What challenges did you face when you first started out with teaching Vedic Maths?
The first challenge was that nobody in my city knew what Vedic maths was! I am talking about the year 1999 – 2000. So when I would approach school principals for conducting workshops, they would turn me down. So lack of awareness was a big issue and challenge.
Next was scaling up. As the only teacher in Kolkatta on Vedic maths, for a period I could manage only a small number of students. So if I wanted to grow, there was very little scope for me.
And finally I was blacklisted in my family when I told them that I would be pursuing Vedic Maths as my career back then. I come from a family of lawyers and businessmen. There was no clear business model for me to follow nor was there a definite plan. It was all by sheer gut feel that I kept on pursuing Vedic Math, because I liked it. So lack of a budding entrepreneurial environment was a challenge for me as it demotivated me a number of times.
8. What message would you like to give to online teachers teaching unconventional subjects?
Patience would be my number one advice. If you can have patience with your subject and give it all you got, trust me you will be appreciated online. You just have to hang in there and wait for the magic to happen.
You must develop authority on your subject by working on it continuously. Your subject should become your passion and you should let it totally consume you. Then my friends you will be watched and listened with respect online.
I thank Gaurav for sharing with us, the insights into his own life as well as the life of Vedic Mathematics in India and abroad. I hope our online teacher community will learn immensely from his experiences; most of all his undying fervor to pursue his choice of subject. I also believe his real life examples of perseverance and passion can instill a confidence in nervous, first time online teachers on WizIQ.
The future of online education is here. Come realize it with WizIQ!
If you would like your unconventional story to be shared with the world, mail to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.