Kapiti Observer Monday 26 November 2001

"Finger math inventor coming to Kapiti"

Frances More from Hanging Rock, South Canterbury, who says she can teach the most reluctant students multiplication, fractions, and division in one hour and touch typing in 30 minutes, is coming to Kapiti. Frances, who says she is no mathematician, has been receiving recognition for her revolutionary teaching technique since she developed it in 1999, while working as an adult literacy and numeracy tutor. “I had kids that were no longer allowed at school, they hadn’t learnt any math or much at all really. I had to find something to keep them interested and learning at the same time.” She found that her students had not grasped the basic concepts of arithmetic, and could not remember the concepts for long when she taught them using conventional methods. The germ of an idea came to Frances after she attended a lecture on visualisation to help stimulate the memory. She then discussed the idea with her manager. “She said that movement could help create a memory as well, so I started to think about that. I thought, we’ve got ten fingers and they all move………..” And a great idea was born. The technique focuses on the idea that the fingers have a memory that can be strengthened by visualisation and movement. Frances teaches her students to use their hands as a calculator. “You can do multiplication, division and work out fractions. If you need to work with bigger numbers you can just make the numbers on your hands from 10 to 20.”  More recently Frances has come up with a way to learn touch-typing in 30 minutes. She allocates each finger three keys, and reinforces the memory with visualisation. “You have to teach the fingers to own their keys, so each finger only has to remember three positions, rather than your brain remembering the whole keyboard.” Frances says great results have come from her technique. She visited Kapiti last year, teaching Otaki College students her system. Resources teacher of literacy Janet Hunter says it was amazing to see the results she got from a group of 14-year-old students. “These were kids who for 10 years had tried to learn their times tables.” In a very short time the group who started off “slightly negative”  had grasped the technique, says Mrs Hunter. “It really is quite revolutionary, although like anything else they have to keep practising or they forget it. Just a minute a night keeps it fresh in your mind.”  Frances will be working with families in Kapiti from December 1 to 5. Lessons take one and a half hours and cost $60. She encourages the whole family to attend, so they can support the learning at home. “Families really enjoy it. I’ve had dads, who thought they were just coming to watch, really get inspired by the technique.”   Her system does come with a warning though. One of the families she worked with nearly ended up in a ditch when their father, who was driving took his hands off the wheel to work out his 17 times table. “I don’t recommend you do it if you are driving.”

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