This bank clerk makes learning maths fun through origami

Teachers' Day today

This bank clerk makes learning maths fun through origami

He sincerely believed he was in the mould of legendary Srinivasa Ramanujan. However, for V Shivashankara Sastry, his innate interest in the tricky subject – mathematics – was not adequately complemented by the way his well-meaning teachers taught it.

For, according to Sastry, his teachers themselves were not proficient and merely parroted it.

Driven by a deep desire to make the difficult subject easy for students, Sastry, despite being a bank clerk by calling, vowed to make the subject more appealing and accessible through the use of the ancient Japanese art of paper-folding – origami.

Popularising subject

No wonder then, at 58, Sastry’s singular passion has not only taken him all over the country, but has also brought him laurels and recognition, for passionately popularising the subject.

A native of Kolar, Sastry, despite no formal training in the subject, has conducted as many as 800 workshops for teachers on the invitation of various state governments and scientific associations to teach and also publish books on the subject.

Be it the Pythagoras Theorem, Circle Theorem and calculations of rates of interest, there is no mathematical concept that cannot be explained by origami, claims Sastry, noting that “except for concepts in business maths, origami can be used for everything else.”

Visualise maths

Sastry’s simple dictum in understanding the rudiments and nuances of mathematical theories and formulae is “a person only needs to visualise maths. Then only will one understand it.

In origami, the way we cut the paper and rearrange it can lead to some startling surprises. One needs to engage in hands-on activity to understand maths better. And what cheaper and better way to do this than origami.”

Bemoaning that the current school system has not progressed in the way the subject is taught, Sastry rues “mugging up facts is still the order of the day in schools. This does not teach students how to approach a problem.”

However, Sastry finds the emergence of Math Labs a welcome trend, which he hopes will foster some positive and practical learning.

Such is Sastry’s fondness for his favourite subject that even after 30 years of service and not rising from the rank of a clerk, he has no regrets. For, as he stoically puts it: “I would travel all the time and would forgo my pay as well. There was no chance of a promotion for me.”

Life’s goal

“But I have no regrets. I am pursuing my passion,” says Sastry, who eats, walks and sleeps mathematics and has made it his life’s goal to teach people mathematics through practical and simple origami.

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