What is Abakidz?
Abakidz is a program that uses the abacus as a tactile learning tool to provide brain training to students of all ages. Guided by Master Jeonghee Lee, the world’s first and only 11th degree abacus master, any student can learn the art of Jusan (abacus math) and Amsan (mental math). The goal of an abacus education, however, is not to create human calculators, though that may be a notable benefit. Our real goal is to transform the way students think about numbers, and to develop parts of the brain often untouched by conventional math learning. Research over the years has shown that abacus learning positively impacts working memory and concentration skills, leading to improvement in not only students' math scores, but also across all subjects.
What is the Abacus?
The abacus has been used for over 5000 years as an arithmetic calculation tool. It was a fundamental part of the core math curriculum in Asian schools until the popularization of electric calculators. The rise of personal computers also led to a shift in preference towards electronic devices as primary learning tools. More recently, however, there has been a resurgence in abacus instruction throughout east Asia due to a renewed appreciation of the unique cognitive benefits of learning with the abacus.
Our curriculum has been carefully developed by Master Jeonghee Lee over the past 10 years and includes comprehensive workbooks, as well as cumulative review and testing. We also distinguish our approach by emphasizing mental math, “Amsan,” from the beginning by training students to visualize the abacus beads moving in their heads. This visualization eventually leads to rapid and accurate calculations without the use of an abacus. Classroom instruction also includes auditory math, “Hosan,” which features the teacher calling out a sequence of numbers to be calculated by either abacus or mental math, which significantly engages auditory skills and working memory. “Flash Amsan,” in which numbers are flashing briefly on a screen before being mentally calculated, also strongly engages visual perception. The Abakidz program also includes several collaborative and competitive games, such as calculation relay races that involve the entire class and reinforce material learned from teachers and the workbooks.
Master Jeonghee Lee (이정희) is the first and only 11th degree abacus master in the world. She obtained the 11th degree at the age of 15, and she has since made it her life’s work to spread the art of Jusan. She hopes to give students young and old the confidence they need to approach numbers and challenge themselves further in mathematics. But despite being one of the world’s foremost mental mathematicians, she prides herself on having started out with no special talent for mathematics. She attributes her success to the time she has dedicated to Jusan and its simple, intuitive nature, which lends itself to true mastery.