December 9, 2022

Taylor Daily Press

Complete News World

Willem (82) wants to break the world record in mental arithmetic: "Calculators make stupid"

Willem (82) wants to break the world record in mental arithmetic: “Calculators make stupid”

Baumann received his talent for mathematics from God, as he himself says. “I think the world of numbers is an experience in itself,” he told EditieNL. “Not a day goes by that I don’t do arithmetic.” Tomorrow he will try to set a sixth world record in mental arithmetic by calculating the sum of the cube root of 36. “It’s a challenge for me and practice keeps me in shape.”

stupid and easy

Although he knew that not everyone had the same talent as him, he was surprised how few people nowadays figure things out by heart. “You don’t have to be good at math, but use common sense for everyday things.”

He finds it difficult to understand that so much attention is given in education to arithmetic with calculators. “This machine makes you dumb and cranky. One learns by doing it and you can’t do that if the calculator does everything for you.”

Logical thinking

About 52 percent of Group 8 students in primary education have reached a basic level of mathematics by 2021. This is evident from the figures from the Education Inspectorate. Mathematics teacher Menno Lagerwey with Menno sees arithmetic skills deteriorate in practice. “I’ve noticed that students often get stuck on fractions. Also, sums with letters are tricky,” he told EditieNL.


Mental arithmetic is useful for many things, as a math teacher teaches. For example, to be able to estimate discounts in the store. “Or turn the recipes from four to two. Then you encounter the math again.” He believes that students now use the calculator primarily out of convenience. “We just don’t feel like making an effort to get paid.”

This is exactly why Lagerwey suggested calculating as many things as possible from memory. “I’m not a mental math superstar either, but the basics are too important to know.”