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My Purpose: From Chemical Engineer to Maths Champion

From Chemical Engineer to Maths Champion: Vedic Maths Neshni Naidoo, a chemical engineer graduate and the director of the South African Vedic Maths Forum, illustrates how numbers and compassion can go hand in hand.

From Chemical Engineer to Maths Champion: Vedic Maths

Vedic Maths is the world’s fastest mental Maths System.

With this system, a student can, for example, multiply numbers like 98 x 97 in less than five seconds. We offer online one-on-one tutoring and classroom-based tuition to support the CAPS Curriculum.

Our mission is to make children love Maths.

Careers, Choices and Complications

30 years ago I would never have imagined that I would be where I am today! Back then, career choices were simple – doctor, lawyer or accountant. These were safe career choices if you were one of the ‘brighter’ students and were guaranteed to see you financially secure.

Although I enjoyed all the subjects I studied at school, the sciences fascinated me because I wanted to know how and why things work. I eventually ended up studying Chemical Engineering at the University of KwaZulu Natal in Durban.

It was an unusual career choice in a male dominated environment, but a challenging one that enabled you to create new processes, designs, equipment etc. using your knowledge of Science and Maths.

Work Experience, Problem Solving and Project Management skills

Over the next 8 years, I was fortunate to work at several companies, Sasol (Sasolburg), NCP (Johannesburg), CPUT (Cape Town) and SANS Fibres (Cape Town).

The work I did during this time included the following:

  • Research and Development
  • Plant Support
  • Conceptual Design
  • Troubleshooting
  • Project Management and
  • Educational Material Development.

Although the type of work was different, there was a common thread that ran through each of them – each was project-based and involved finding solutions to problems, documenting and sharing them.

With each project, I developed new skills, gained knowledge of different processes and was continually challenged.

Meaning, Maths and Priorities

I had always assumed that I would be a career person, but with the arrival of my children, my priorities changed.

I felt that it was more important for me to be at home with them in their first few years. During this time at home, I realised my passion lay in Education.

However, I did not want to teach in a traditional schooling environment or use traditional techniques but rather take my love of learning and translate this into creative teaching that would inspire and motivate students rather than turn them away.

In 2010, I bought a franchise with EXPERI-BUDDIES ™ where I taught Science as a fun Extra-mural class to children between the ages of 6 and 9. During interactions with parents and teachers and from my own experience with my son, I became aware of the problems associated with Maths and Science Education in our country.

In an attempt to help my own child by finding more creative ways of teaching him Maths, I came across Vedic Maths. This is a system of Mental Maths that originated in India in the early 1900’s and was developed by the Mathematician and Scholar, Sri Bharati Krishna Tirthaji.

Becoming a Vedic Maths Champion

Upon completing a Vedic Maths Training Course through Vedic Maths Forum India, I was offered the opportunity to promote this in South Africa.

In October 2013, the Vedic Maths Forum South Africa was established with the purpose of supporting and developing Maths Education in South Africa through Online Tutoring in Regular School Maths and Vedic Maths and workshops for teachers, parents and learners.

When I realised that this is where I was meant to be, I knew I had reached a turning point.

Through our work with learners – we are able to inspire a love for Maths. However, this needs to be supported by teachers and parents. This is why the workshops with them are an essential part of the equation – reducing their Maths anxiety is crucial to reducing Maths anxiety in the learner.

What I love about the work I do, is that I am constantly creating – more creative ways of helping learners understand Maths and content to support teachers and parents and inspire a love of Maths.

Reducing parents Maths anxiety is crucial to reducing Maths anxiety in the learner.

You Have Career Choices if You Are A Lifelong Learner

For some people, the career choice is simple – they may have known at a young age.

For me, it was a journey of discovery – a 30-year journey.

I firmly believe that the experiences I have had were all designed to help me get where I am today and that they have made me who I am today.

I also believe that as we grow and as our priorities change, our career choices should also evolve. It is important therefore to be a lifelong learner for a skill you develop now, may become relevant at a later stage in life.

Want to know more about Vedic Maths? Go here.

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Leonie Hall

Leonie Hall, disruptive thinker and dynamic strategist, is an expert in education, development, quality management and innovation. She has spoken at local and international conferences; and currently works as an independent consultant and content developer. Contact Leonie for a consultation.

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