Tatyana Chernigovskaya: Why Do We Need Maths

Tatyana Chernigovskaya: Why Do We Need Maths

How to put one’s mind in order and why we should not compete with AI 

The Second Eurasian Women’s Forum held UCMAS Mental Arithmetic Championship for girls. The event greatly impressed everyone present. Tatyana Chernigovskaya, PhD in Biology, PhD in Philology, Russia’s well-known neuroscientist and psycholinguist, shared her expert opinion about the contest. 

Tatyana Chernigovskaya - Honourary professor and scientist of Russia, a Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Education, PhD in Biology, PhD in Philology, professor of the Department of General Linguistics, the Head of the Department of the Problems of Convergence in Natural Sciences and Humanities, the Head of the Laboratory for Cognitive Studies of St. Petersburg State University 

Some specialists in child development are sceptical about mental arithmetic. They believe such a way of teaching children to count quickly is just an intimidating experience for them, which provides no practical value. Tatyana Chernigovskaya disagreed with that opinion after visiting the Championship. 

Girls from different countries took part in the event. Their task was to solve 400 tasks in eight minutes. 

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Experts predicted the world record for calculation in unit time would be set that day. Tatyana Chernigovskaya was amazed at the girls’ self-assurance. They did not think it was that hard of a task. 

The scientist shared: “I was deeply impressed with everything I saw, it was truly unbelievable. It is not just too hard for me to perform anything like that; I cannot even imagine how children are carrying out such complex calculations. It was interesting for me to watch them while trying to comprehend the process that took place. The girls were saying nothing to themselves. The main thing is that they were absolutely calm and not nervous at all. Sometimes they were just standing up from their places and making the calculations while imagining something in front of them”. 

Professor supposes it is not just some method of counting. It is the process influencing brain’s neural network. She believes this phenomenon should be studied properly for many years. It is essential to carefully look for children doing mental arithmetic. However, one has to do it with caution and responsibly, without cultivating any complexes or star sickness in them. 

Tatyana Chernigovskaya is sure: every person should study maths. This discipline is equally important for people with different mindsets. She quoted Mikhail Lomonosov, who once said that mathematics helps one put their mind in order. 

The professor, however, highlighted we should not compete with AI and new technologies in general in terms of calculating. Machines have high memory capacity and far exceeded people’s processing speed. They do not get nervous or tired. Nevertheless, people have many other advantages compared to machines. 

Tatyana Chernigovskaya believes: “Studying maths is crucial. Although, in terms of surpassing the AI we have to think of another, non-standard way. Maybe the inspiration will come to us while we enjoy paintings or music”. 

Anna Repina, news agency of the Eurasian Women’s Community

Translated by Nikolay Boykov