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10,000 times practise

October 8, 2013

In May, I was really pleased to see Arthur Benjamin performing lightning arithmetic at Weston Playhouse as part of the Bristol Day of Magic. I had seen his performance on YouTube (I recommend you search for it) but was still very impressed seeing it first hand. It’s fair to say that the audience were super impressed and in my opinion, were more impressed by this than the ‘standard’ magic effects.

After the show, Art was out in the foyer chatting to people and doing more of his arithmetic for people. He was also selling some DVDs explaining his techniques.

I bought two.

There are many different things explained and some are easier than others. I can work out what day of the week any given date in the 1900s or 2000s was/is for example and this is relatively quick to learn. What I’m currently working on is squaring two digit numbers with the view of going on to three and upwards.

So, how do I practise? We’ll, I’ve used Excel to produce lists of two digit numbers at random.

As you might be able to tell, I’m making mistakes along the way but that’s to be expected. I’m also timing myself as I ultimately want to be ‘lightning’ at this.

How many times do I want to practise? 10 000.

This is my tracking sheet (available on TES if you want a copy). Each time I do 10 squaring calculations, I colour a box.

I hope I keep this up and that I’ll be finished by Christmas. We’ll see how that goes.

I’m also asking students to help me in school when there are a spare few minutes. I like the thought of them seeing a teacher practising something and hope that by sharing it with them they might nudge me to practise every so often.


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  1. Have you looked at the ios app: “mathemagics” – various tricks covered, keeps track of your progress, provides customiseable random tests, can be pulled out at any given opportunity for a quick spot of practice : ) I was working on squaring two-digit numbers and got to medium (but ultimately non-impressive) speeds. Liking the Bruce Lee quote – good luck!

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