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Sword does not need to remember how the whetstone looks

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Imagine sharpening your sword with a whetstone. The job of the stone is to sharpen the sword. It does not matter what color the stone is.

Cheenta programs are designed like whetstones. They are supposed to sharpen the creativity and problem solving skills through a slow but sure process. They involve thousands of thought provoking problems, hands-on exercises and long term projects. This is perhaps one of the reasons why so many Cheenta students do well in the national and international level olympiads.

It is in fact unimportant to remember how the whetstone looks; that is it’s unnecessary for children to remember the details of the content. This is particularly true in the elementary school level olympiad programs. This content is not designed to be remembered as tools for they not. They are designed to sharpen the mind, excite the imagination and improve creative problem solving.

Take for example the module on Spatial patterns in elementary school olympiad program. One of the modules involve platonic solids such as dodecahedron, icosahedron etc. Students draw wireframe diagrams of these solids in paper, draw projection diagrams, implement it in Geogebra, draw dual solids using adjacency relations and so on. The point to note here is that platonic solids themselves are not that important. The things kids do with them is important. For example they learn about perspectivity (a visualization skill fundamental to geometry). They indirectly learn about duality, another important fundamental notion that runs through entire mathematics. As they walk through projection diagrams, their geometric visualization and spatial sense improve and get organized. These are very useful in the long run for problem solving. They also learn how to draw, redraw and think and rethink. They learn patience.

The Cheenta programs for elementary school kids are developed over the last 12 years with immense care. They incorporate findings of celebrated mathematician Cedric Villani, work of Rabindranath Thakur in Shikkhasotro, problems of Math circle experience in erstwhile Soviet Union and many other people who have worked tirelessly to improve mathematics education in elementary school. Let us know your thoughts as well.

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