I was taught math in a very stoic method during my childhood and as a result became math-phobia. Now as an adult, I wish to relearn math as a long term hobby and a cure for my phobia. I found that in India, they value the process of solving problems above memorisation and children learn to link numerical knowledge together (find relationships) building a strong foundation for mathematics while having lots of fun. I too wish to build a strong foundation for mathematical basics (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) this way, but could not find specific details on how to proceed. I wish to find a book that guides me through basic math from the ground up (as a Indian teacher would do for their students), and have something I can practice with; workbook. the details I found are: they do 2 digit number addition and subtraction, memorise multiplication table up to 20x20, think in terms of 12 (versus 10), and do 3 digit multiplications. I found this much, but the information did not include in which order kids learned what, or the methods (practice questions) used. I feel the details (process of learning, questions, language, method) are very important and hope someone can guide me as to how children come to learn and appreciate numbers in India or any other related source. I would especially like to know the specifics (order, method, questions, sources used) but would appreciate any other guidance as to how I can begin enjoying math (especially concerning the Indian method). sincerely

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    $\begingroup$ I recommend you space your question into paragraphs (with line breaks) so that it's easier to read for others. $\endgroup$ – user472341 Nov 14 '17 at 11:43
  • $\begingroup$ Oryoucouldalsoskipblankstoincreasereadabilitytoninethousand. $\endgroup$ – P. Siehr Nov 14 '17 at 12:00

I am from India and after reading your post I thought I should answer your question.First thing is that most of the students opt for centeral education ie CBSE which follows the NCERT strictly so if you wanna learn in an Indian way,,you should probably go for that and RD Sharma is a good followup help for solving and understanding NCERT but it starts from class 6 imo and I don't know any famous book trend for classes below that.For methods the teacher usually teach us from the books(NCERT) and we follow those method only and ask the teachers for doubt.So if u wanna do this in Indian way,I would recommend NCERT and some online lectures of our teachers.Also hoping that u get cured of this phobia.

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  • $\begingroup$ thank you! I will check these sources. I wish I had gotten to know the Indian method of studying math as a child. I remember liking problem solving on my own until school started to "teach" math. $\endgroup$ – pepe Nov 14 '17 at 14:04
  • $\begingroup$ I also read somewhere that parents in India incorporate math into their daily lives from early childhood, do you remember being taught any math helping-methods like finger math or any other memorisation techniques (maybe the 20x20 recitation?) or games as a child? if so, could you please share your experiences and your opinions about them? $\endgroup$ – pepe Nov 14 '17 at 14:17
  • $\begingroup$ nothing special but if I were to remember something like this it would be that my parents used to give me tables upto 10 and then 20 after I had memorised them and would randomly ask me about any table anytime and even helped me in calculations and corrected me whenever I was wrong and gave me new problems to work on so this improved my calculations. $\endgroup$ – Hydrous Caperilla Nov 14 '17 at 23:49
  • $\begingroup$ I see, I guess in many families in India, math is a natural part of nurturing a child. thank you for sharing your experience. $\endgroup$ – pepe Nov 15 '17 at 6:53

This is the second and perhaps an unnecessary answer to your question.

  1. There is no speciality about the "Indian" way of learning/doing math. In fact, I doubt, if any such way exists at all.

  2. We don't incorporate mathematical problems into our daily lives. It's hard to do that if you're not a math person or a scientist or a mathematician. The life of an average Indian is really bland, and not the cinematic one you're expecting.

  3. We learn by rote more than perhaps any other person of a differing nationality. Our education system is horrid. In fact, I insist that most of us have learnt more problems than understood them. Yes, after a certain point in learning stuff, it sometimes happens that you get an insight of the mechanism, the logic et cetera. But that's more of your luck and, if I may say, merit, than the system of education or anything else.

  4. We don't memorise multiplication tables upto 20...? And we don't think in terms of 12...? I mean why would anyone want to do any of those...? I never did, that's for sure.

  5. We don't have a thing for numbers...

As an Indian myself, it perhaps would have felt more pleasant to live with the praise you'd showered upon us as a whole. But I couldn't help questioning it. Our degrading system of education and our pitiful state of cultural and/or academic literacy (in general) compels me to question what doesn't belong to us. We really don't deserve your perception of India at present. Someday we will, and perhaps this question will stand witness to it.


Not everyone is made to be a Ramanujan. Math to everyone isn't just numbers. Also, math isn't necessarily arithmetic. If you want to develop an interest in mathematics first, why not go for the interesting stuff? Learning math academically helps only on an academic ground.

You can read plenty of e-books on number theory, discrete math, abstract algebra and so much other fun stuff. That too, free of cost, if you search enough. There's plenty of fun math videos on YouTube; and dedicated fun math channels include ViHart, Numberphile, 3Blue1Brown, etc. etc. You can also find quality math content scattered across Vsauce. Oh and did I mention Khan Academy? And yeah, do watch videos on topology and graph theory. Really complicated but really satisfying, even if you understand a mere 10% of it like I do :)

Moral of the story -

Indians aren't special. And that's a stereotype you'd really want to discard. If you want to learn math, go the American way. Go the world's way. They do understand some mathematics. And that's the reason why they are one of the leaders in mathematical research worldwide.

P.S. - I did my best to not derogate or sponsor any nation whatsoever. Please, (some of) my fellow (hardheaded) countrymen, don't call me an anti-nationalist. That's become a stale remark by now.

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    $\begingroup$ It would have been better if the reference to specific countries was avoided. But +1 for the points you have raised. $\endgroup$ – Paramanand Singh May 23 at 14:20

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