Up until today, I wasn’t so sure what math problems have to do with a global mindset. Math is the most logical of things in my world, one problem, one solution. But then I saw a video that one of my Facebook friends shared. What I found was an Indian teacher explaining three completely different ways of multiplication to her students. I was awe-struck. How is that possible, I thought. I had never even thought about the fact that multiplication could be done differently. How narrow-minded of me to think that the one single method I knew from my German school would be the way every child learned how to multiply.
Naturally, I quickly started browsing YouTube to find many different ways to multiply. Let me tell you, it’s rather fascinating. At the same time, you’re probably still wondering: What on earth does math have to do with a global mindset?
But first off, the video (apologies for the quality):
Global Mindset: Many ways of reaching the same result
After watching this teacher explain her students multiplication in ways I had never seen or heard of, I definitely realized that I had made an unconscious assumption:
The way I knew how to multiply was the only way I knew (until this morning). This is how I was taught, ergo my assumption was that everyone would multiply the same way. When I found out that many more methods of multiplication exist (see below examples), my reaction was along those lines:
My realization translates well into other experiences in a complex, multicultural environment. Whether you are doing international business, playing pro sports overseas, or studying abroad, it is only when we are confronted with “otherness” that we realize that there are many ways and approaches to reach a result.
Adopting a global mindset with math problems?
What strikes me the most about the multiplication example, is that there is one correct answer. While many results in life are subjectively assessed and evaluated, a math results is either right or wrong. Isn’t it fascinating to see how many different paths and approaches you can take to get to these results?
Now, this obviously isn’t supposed to mean that you should be doing more multiplication problems (although, why not?). When we talk about having a global mindset, we want to underline the importance of qualities like flexibility, open-mindedness and resourcefulness in a person. But how do you develop and integrate these qualities and competencies into your behaviors and attitudes? One answer might lie in my surprise-moment on math multiplication methods.