I found this little post about How Japanese School Children Solve Multiplication Problems.
This is mind-boggling. It took me a little while (maybe two minutes, probably a little less) to figure out what was being done. Once I did I realized it’s a little easier to solve the problem than the way I was taught, which always involved some memory work and/or counting on my fingers to figure it out.
This is still slower than using a calculator or looking over the shoulder of the smart kid in front of you, but it’s kind of fun. I like drawing the squiggly circles.