A brief summary of the reasons for my opposition to the

introduction of Vedic Mathematics in the school curriculum.

(In addition to the points already made in the joint statement

with many others).

The purpose of the maths curriculum in school education can be spelt

out as follows. At the practical level students should learn the

basics of arithmetic, algebra and geometry. More conceptually, the

students should be able to recognise symmetry and pattern and

construct examples of these. They should also learn to analyse

constructions made by others logically and critically. When I tell you

6 times 8 is 48 this should bring up a mental image by which you

convince yourself that this is correct---it is certainly *not* my

authority as a mathematician that should convince you!

Does the so-called Vedic Mathematics address any of these issues? In a

nutshell---no. The so-called method in Vedic Mathematics is a

collection of computational tricks. Moreover, these tricks are not

algorithms or recipes since numerous exceptions prevent them from being

applied uniformly. The only teaching method mentioned in texts on

Vedic Mathematics is the memorisation of some "shlokas". This is quite

contrary to getting students to see the symmetry for themselves. Finally,

with the emphasis on the "Vedas", there is an appeal to authority

which entirely negates the need to learn logic as a tool for critical

thinking. But for the name "Vedic Mathematics" no one would have looked

at this material even once.

The very fact that people from India are in demand in the software

industry---very definitely a mathematical-skill based industry, shows

that our syllabus is reasonably adequate. It is the

"Who? How? Where?" that causes problems in school education. Mathematics

(like other school subjects) needs to be taught by better-paid,

better-motivated and better-equipped teachers and schools. It is these

aspects that the government should be addressing.

Syllabus-making bodies naturally feel that their job is to improve the

syllabus. However, every such change should be done in consultation

with the best people in the discipline not just those in education and

government. In this case the oft-published views of eminent mathematicians

(such as those in the National Board for Higher Mathematics) have been

entirely ignored.

Decline in the mathematical skills of the common people will be the

*only* consequence of the introduction of Vedic Mathematics.