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Numbers are all around us, we cannot do without them – Omojolade, King of Numbers

King of Numbers shares the pivotal experiences that nurtured his talent, passion, gusto and enthusiasm, the mentors who guided him, and the countless hours of practice that honed his skills to perfection in his irrefragable pursuit into the apotheosis of calculation. Through his compelling narrative, we gain insight into the mindset of a mathematical prodigy and the dedication required to push the boundaries of human calculation. Beyond the individual, Tella Michael represents a beacon of inspiration for mathematics educators worldwide. He shares his story with Folaranmi Ajayi.
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In the realm of mathematics, there are those who merely navigate the numbers and then there are those who reign over them. Tella Omojolade Michael, popularly known as the “King of Numbers,” is one of the latter. His exceptional numerical abilities have astounded audiences around the world, making him a true game-changer within the field of mathematics education. Today, Edugist has the privilege of sitting down with the remarkable young Nigerian human calculator to uncover the story behind his awe-inspiring talent. From a young age, Tella Omojolade Michael exhibited an uncanny affinity for numbers. His mathematical abilities were far beyond what one might expect from a child, showcasing a natural talent that set him apart from his peers. As we delve into his journey, we discover the moments that shaped him, the challenges he encountered, and the unwavering passion that fuels his insatiable thirst for mathematical knowledge. During the interview, Michael opens up about the origins of his fascination with numbers, recounting how he first discovered his extraordinary mental calculations ability. He shares the pivotal experiences that nurtured his talent, the mentors who guided him, and the countless hours of practice that honed his skills to perfection. Through his compelling narrative, we gain insight into the mindset of a mathematical prodigy and the dedication required to push the boundaries of human calculation. Beyond the individual, Tella Michael represents a beacon of inspiration for mathematics educators worldwide.

His incredible demonstrations challenge traditional teaching methods, urging educators to embrace innovative approaches that tap into the innate mathematical potential of their students. As he imparts his wisdom and experiences, he sheds light on the transformative power of mathematics education, emphasising the importance of nurturing young minds to think critically and creatively. Throughout our conversation, we explore the impact of the King of Numbers on the global stage, discussing his aspirations, the recognition he has received, and his goals for the future. Michael’s story exemplifies the power of passion, perseverance, and the unlimited potential within each and every individual. Join us as we dive deep into the mind of the King of Numbers, uncovering the secrets behind his extraordinary talents and the indelible mark he is making on the world of mathematics education. Through this exclusive interview with Edugist, we aim to celebrate the awe-inspiring journey of Tella Omojolade Michael and inspire educators and learners alike to unlock their own mathematical greatness. Excerpts:

Can you introduce yourself to Edugist readers?

My name is Tella Omojolade who is also known as the human calculator. I hail from Abeokuta in Ogun State.

Give us a background of Education from primary to higher institution?

I attended Salvation Army Primary School In Agbara, Ogun State. I did my secondary school education at Agbara Community High SchooL, Ogun State. I attended Lagos State University where I studied Geography and Planning

How did you develop your extraordinary ability to calculate complex mathematical problems mentally?

I was naturally gifted with the ability to do something interesting with numbers, but over the years, I have dedicated time to get better with it, read books, researched on how to do some things I couldn’t do before.

Could you explain the concept of the Fibonacci sequence and its significance in mathematics and nature ?

The Fibonacci sequence works in nature, too, as a corresponding ratio that reflects various patterns in nature — think the nearly perfect spiral of a nautilus shell and the intimidating swirl of a hurricane.
Humans have probably known about the Fibonacci sequence for millennia — mathematical ideas around this interesting pattern date to ancient sanskrit texts from between 600 and 800 B.C.E. But in modern times we have associated it with everything from one medieval man’s obsession with rabbits to computer science and sunflower seeds. These are just examples of the influence of Fibonacci sequence.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to improve their mental math skills?

My advice for such a person is that he must first learn how to count, it may seem funny, if one can’t count properly, to be very good with numeracy will not be easier. There must also be a sign of enthusiasm from such a fellow. If not, it will be just like putting a round peg in a square hole.

In what ways can understanding numbers and mathematical principles enhance our daily lives and decision-making?

Numbers are all around us, we cannot do without them. Just like what I mentioned in one of my posts, there is nothing man has done from time immemorial that numbers never got involved in. Mathematics is very important for our existence, everything we find all around us today came into existence with the influence of mathematics. The algorithms that are used to build gadgets, websites, et cetera, came into existence with the help of mathematics.

Can you share some practical applications of mathematics that have had a significant impact on society or scientific advancements?

The application of mathematics in the modern world is a complex and ever-changing field. In the Middle East for example, there are many businesses and governments that rely on mathematical expertise to make their decisions. Some of the most common applications of mathematical expertise in the modern world are in business, finance, and engineering. In business, mathematical expertise can be used to calculate financial ratios and statements, to analyse data, and to predict future financial trends. In engineering, mathematical expertise can be used to design and build products, for data analysis, and to make predictions.
Without mathematics, the world would not have made the giant strides it has made today as it is crucial to understand the natural world as well. Maths describes the behaviour of particles and waves, the flow of fluids, and the dynamics of complex systems.

To assist in easier comprehension of this intimidating yet crucial subject, many schools in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) offer science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) learning which focus on individual learning styles and interests. STEM courses develop children’s cognitive abilities and facilitate quick problem-solving. They are working towards their goal of ensuring that every student graduate is tech-savvy and STEM-literate. Recognising this, Blake E-learning along with 3P Learning created Mathletics which is the perfect early learning maths programme to form a strong base for math students. It is convenient to use as it syncs with all your devices and hence you can use it anywhere at any time. This platform offers a personalised path with downloadable worksheets and a self-paced curriculum. Enjoyable characters and lessons use real-world examples and escort you through your learning journey while providing immediate assessments and reports so you are aware of your progress.

How do numbers play a role in understanding and predicting patterns in various fields, such as finance, weather, or human behavior?

Patterns are everywhere in nature. The natural patterns found in nature deeply affect and nurture us. They are imprinted in our physiological-cognitive system and when we spend time in environments devoid of natural patterns, it leads to anxiety and stress which in the short term hampers productivity but in the long term can lead to illness. Nikos Salingaros, architectural theorist and mathematician, emphasises that there are enormous opportunities to create healing built environments by incorporating the mathematical qualities of those found in living and natural forms. There are many kinds of natural patterns and those that have a self-similarity are called fractals. According to Salingaros, “much, if not all, of natural structure is fractal”. Fractals are patterns that repeat at different scales: If you zoom in on a picture of a fractal, you will still see the same pattern repeated.

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Tella teaching numeracy in class.

Are there any particular mental strategies or techniques you employ when solving math problems quickly and accurately?

Mental strategies? Yes, there is, but it must be learned with open mindedness, it cannot be crammed. I see the understanding of methods, skills needed to be so good with numbers just as a monk will take its time to understand what is written in a scroll.

What role does intuition play in your ability to perform calculations without the aid of external tools?

The intuition must be well trained to be proficient with numeracy skills. There are some external tools that are very important for one to be very good. Those tools will aid getting better.

How can a strong foundation in mathematics contribute to developing critical thinking skills and problem-solving abilities?

Strong foundation in mathematics is very crucial in today’s world, most especially in the area of STEM concentration. Mathematics will help one to be very good with critical thinking, it helps analytical thinking too.

What are some misconceptions or common mistakes people make when approaching mathematics, and how can they be overcome?

Based on misconceptions being passed around overtime, mathematics is an interesting subject. There is a need for an individual to first determine that he or she will succeed at it, and there must also be an unwavering interest, if the interest to learn, to practice, it becomes easier, the rules of mathematics hardly change, it’s just a matter of application using the right formulas.

As a numeracy consultant and speed math tutor, how do you see working with students especially pupils and what are the challenges and lessons?

Since I delved into numeracy consulting, I really enjoyed working with pupils, students. My job is aroused their interest in numeracy, most especially in the area of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division,et cetera.
The challenges are not far fetched, they are something that can be amended, I’m talking about reorienting the learners about new, simpler ways of solving numeracy questions, memorisation sessions. Mind you, addition, subtraction is more complex and a little bit tasking, there is a need for one to understand the rudiments. The lessons I have learnt so far is to work with the pupils individually, their rate of assimilation varies.

Can you share what the class looks like?

It is always an interacting one, the students will need to write, speak and present in each class, I don’t spend much time in classes, students’ attention span is about 20 minutes, spending a lot of time teaching them at a go may yield no result. Numeracy is an interesting subject that needs to be taught with all carefulness.

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King of Numbers in class

You made a post on Facebook June 2, 2023
“One day I will share my story of how a Nigerian ɗenied me opportunity of meeting the former Guinness Book of World Record holder for fastest human calculator in the world in 2020.”
Would you like to share what happened?

In August, 2020, I was contacted by Mr Kola (not his original name), he was interested in what I’m doing, he instructed me to reach out to one of his contact person , Mr Gbade (not his original name) who is in Nigeria, I did as instructed, but whenever I sent him a text, he will read and he won’t reply, I did that for almost three weeks, until one day, Ihad to get back to the person that asked me to reach out to him, I explained what was going on, he referred me to another person (not her original name) Ms Laura who is working with both Mr Kola and Mr Gbade, I reached out to her, we spoke the next day, we fixed appointment to meet in October, we met and spoke about possibilities of working together. There was a numeracy competition that was organised by the team. The lady told me that I will be invited for the event, but unfortunately the event was held, I never got the invitation.
In March, 2021, Ms. Laura called me on one Sunday evening, she told me that I should not be angry with what she was about to tell me, I told her to tell me, she narrated what happened between her and Gbade concerning me being on the team, being invited for the event. She honestly told me that she did her best, but Mr. Gbade was not ready to allow me to be on the team nor be at the numeracy event, due to his insecurity that I might outshine him , and how they had subtle altercations on the issue. I was shocked when she finished narrating what really happened, that took my mind back to the first time I reached out to him, he did not respond to my messages, and up till this moment he never did. I really had my hopes high then concerning the competition because it was a platform I could have leveraged on to meet one of the greatest human calculators on record.

Can you tell Edugist the platforms that you have been featured on?

I have had opportunities to be featured on quite numbers of platforms which includeBritish Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Africa X5, TVC, Channels, NTA, Max 102.3 FM, LASU Radio, Unilag Radio, Inspiration FM Ibadan, Alausa Alert, Shiny Gloves Club, TEDx AllianceWay, Atiba University, LinkedIn Local Akure.

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King of Numbers posing to the camera at an event.

Read also: Conceptual and Procedural Knowledge in Mathematics Education

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