# 14. Is accuracy or speed more important in Abacus and Mental Arithmetic learning?

Updated: Feb 1, 2021

In the process of learning abacus, most teachers will first emphasize on the accuracy of calculation, which is a natural concept. First of all, it doesn’t make sense to calculate the number of questions if the answer is wrong.

Since the scoring method of the abacus is very clear. Only the correct answer will score, and the wrong answer will be zero. In addition, the scoring methods is similar in elementary school mathematic class. The answer is the primary, calculation process is secondary or it is not even considered. Therefore, in abacus and mental arithmetic teaching, the teacher is more concern about common errors/students addiction. Once there’s a common errors occurs, it is very hard to correct. Addition affects multiplication and subtraction affects division. The higher the level of learning, the problems are more complicated. Some students will give up, because there is no sense of accomplishment. It may also affect school mathematics grades. Therefore, the evaluation given by people is bipolar and also depends on the effectiveness of student learning.

Is it correct in the teaching process only emphasizing correctness? If there is a student who score the questions, but the speed is slow? For example: Division 10 minutes (finished 14 questions, score 70, passed); Another student’s speed is faster, and completed all 20 question in 8 minutes, but only score 60, failed. At present, the first students seems to preform better, but if you look at it from the perspective of sustainable learning, the second student will learn longer and achieve better results.

We can discuss few concepts:

1. First of all, in terms of speed: Why some of the students calculation are faster and some are slower? Of course, if students spend more time practice they will became high proficiency, short thinking time, and faster in speed. For students with better understanding and older age, the reflex action drives the fingers to work faster. Therefore, the amount of homework should be adjusted in a timely manner, and a small part should be done every day. Parents are also requested to help check the answer. Teachers should honestly inform parents that students do not have enough practice, rather than just comforting them: your child learns well, the accuracy is high, but the speed is slower.

(2) Why emphasize speed?

(a) Both the grading exam and the competition have time limits, and it is a good start to develop a timing habit.

(b) The calculation speed is slow, which means that the thinking time of students is prolonged, or they are not sure whether the formula is correct, or the amount of practice is not enough.

(c) Its impact is that it is more difficult to enter the next unit of learning. Imagine that the previous section has not been completely absorbed. If new type of questions is added, it will only increased confusion and frustration.

(d) On the contrary, fast-moving students, having absorbed and digested the previous stage, can concentrate on and confidently learn new question types.

(3) Speed is important, so is accuracy the second? of course not. There are many factors for the wrong answer, which vary from person to person. Either you don’t concentrate, or you don’t understand the question type, or the positioning is not correct, but the most important thing is that there is a common errors occur. Therefore, teachers should usually develop the habit of reading papers, pay more attention to the wrong questions and the reasons, and do not just count how many questions are correct. The sooner the student's common errors are corrected, the lesson will be easier.

We often say: teaching. As the name implies, teaching is teacher teaching, and learning is student learning (practice). Teaching is a teacher ’s job, to avoid students ’addiction, create a good learning situation, and let students learn the technique.

Therefore, correctness is the responsibility of the teacher. Learning is the student ’s job, and it is true that what you learn will be practiced daily to proficiency, which is convenient for learning more advanced grades. Therefore, speed is the student's responsibility. Speed and correctness are two parallel indicators, both of which are indispensable. However, we believe that the importance of speed is higher than the correct one. When learning from the basics, the teacher should ask the students to achieve the calculation speed of one word per second. Only a good calculation speed can have a wider learning space. After all, teachers can correct mistakes at any time, but they cannot immediately help students speed up.