Dr.rer.nat. Lukáš Palatinus, Senior Scientists Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences
The Hejný Method of teaching mathematics
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What is The Hejný Method of teaching mathematics?
The creativity of the Hejný Method of teaching mathematics stems from its respect for what children already know, and how to stimulate thinking based upon what they can recall. Students perceive mathematics through experience, and remember their "aha moments" forever in other areas of learning and life.
The Czech Republic's education system continues to fall behind other countries, particularly with respect to the level and quality of mathematics instruction. Czech mathematics educators are, meanwhile, increasingly burdened by the pressures to deliver on student outcomes, without opportunities of professional growth. At stake are the learning experiences for more than 900,000 elementary school pupils, approximately 400,000 secondary school students, and tens of thousands of primary and secondary level mathematics teachers. While 70% of teachers say they are dissatisfied with their profession, Czech pupils express the greatest levels of disliking school compared to all OECD countries.
With the assistance of his research team at Charles University, Prof. Hejný conceived the “schema-oriented” education in mathematics (here SOEM) theory, which focuses on building mental schemata among mathematical concepts. Unlike traditional mathematics teaching focused on routine memorisation or standard tasks, the method focuses on developing children’s mental competences in understanding mathematical rules. These capacities are further reinforced through collaborative dialogue among classmates. This method enables children not to absorb individual facts disconnected from reality, but to embrace holistic thought schemes which are more accessible and less abstract to them. From this, mathematics can be enjoyed and successfully learned.
Author, educator, and mathematical didactics expert Prof. Milan Hejný (1936) experimentally taught elementary school mathematics during 1975-1979 and 1983-1989. Since 1991, Prof. Hejný has lectured at the Charles University Faculty of Education. His team compiled a set of mathematics textbooks and teacher handbooks for elementary schools. Subsequent textbooks for secondary schools have been developed. In 2013, he co-founded H-MAT with the aim to improve mathematics literacy among pupils at all types of schools through dissemination of his teaching methods.