Hands As A Calculator
By William G Mandras, © 2006, 2017 All Rights Reserved
The late Jakow Trachtenberg, founder of the Mathematical Institute in Zurich, Switzerland, and the originator of a startling new system in arithmetic, Trachtenberg’s pencil and paper arithmetic has been converted to hand-calculations. Hand-calculations are enabled by the correspondence between the fingers of the hands and the basic numbers, zero-to-nine, in base-ten numerations.
All memory is association. Teaching the American Sign Language hand-signs for the Base-10 numbers will provide the association needed in the process of committing the important number facts to memory.
Number sums, differences and products are abstract concepts that cannot be easily associated with visual objects and are, therefore, very difficult facts to memorize. Teaching the pedagogy of hand calculations that can determine, in real time, any sum, difference or product not only will relieve the distress that many students would otherwise feel when recall fails but also enable the students to practice the procedures at anytime or place. For the most part, the hand signs conform to the American Sign Language for numbers. The larger sums and products being the most difficult to memorize, this manuscript will limit the hand diagrams to the sums, differences and 2-digit products in the addition, subtraction and multiplication tables.