An approach to mathematics teaching and child development

What is the “Hejny method”?

It is a non-traditional way of teaching mathematics. This method has been adopted by more than 750 of the 4 100 Czechs schools on the primary and lower-secondary level.

The Hejny method is also being implemented in a range of alternative schools and in home-schooling. The method has raised interest in Italy, Finland, Sweden, Greece, Poland (where a textbook series is about to be published), and Canada. The Czech edition of textbooks for primary schools has been approved by the Czech Ministry of Education in 2007. The method is introduced to pre-service teachers studying in primary education programs at the Charles University in Prague and at the University of Ostrava.

THE METHOD’S 12 KEY PRINCIPLES

The Hejny method is based on respecting 12 key principles, that make up a comprehensive concept that allows children to discover mathematics on their own and with pleasure. It builds on 40 years of experimental work and puts into practice historical notions that have been occurring throughout the history of mathematics since the time of Ancient Egypt.

THE STORY OF THE HEJNY METHOD

Vit Hejny (in the photo on the left) analyzed the reason behind the fact that his pupils did not try to understand problems and preferred to memorize formulas that are only suitable for typical kinds of problems. He searched for non-standard problems which he tested in experiments with pupils, including his son (in the photo on the right). Unfortunately, political circumstances did not allow these findings to expand further.

In 1974, following a dispute with his son’s mathematics teacher, Milan Hejny, a mathematician, decides to become his own child’s teacher in school. With a small team of colleagues, he begins to elaborate on his father’s ideas. These are published as a comprehensive text in 1987. Unlike the traditional teaching of mathematics, which focuses on practicing standard problems, the new method is directed at the construction of a network of mental mathematical schemata. These schemata are formed by each pupil individually, during the process of solving suitable problems and by discussing their solutions with classmates.

In the 1990’s, a team is being formed around professor Hejny at the Faculty of Education at Charles University, and the methods finds its way into university pre-service teacher programs and, thanks to teacher training workshops, into real classrooms. At the initiative of the Fraus publishing house, the team writes a series of mathematics textbooks for the primary school. M. Hejny has established the company H-mat, o.p.s in 2013 to systematically evolve and spread the method. In 2015 the textbooks are adopted by 20% of Czech schools. Currently, textbooks for the lower-secondary level are being created. There are plans for upper-secondary school textbooks and for extending the current support scheme for teachers who teach with the method. Awareness of the method has also spurred investigation into the possibilities of implementing the method in other school subjects.

More about Milan Hejny

PUBLICATIONS ABOUT THE METHOD

A profusion of publications, articles and conference contributions has been published. Here we only show the most important of them
Hejný: Vyučování matematice na 1. stupni ZŠ orientované na budování schémat: Aritmetika.
Hejný a kol.: Teória vyučovania matematiky 2
Hejný, Kuřina: Dítě, škola a matematika: konstruktivistické přístupy k vyučování
Hejný, Novotná, Stehlíková: 25 kapitol z didaktiky matematiky (available online [PDF])
Bachratý: Archiv Víta Hejného

Journal Articles
Hejný, Jirotková: Contribution of geometry to the goals of education in mathematics (Orbis Scholae, available online [PDF])
Hejný: Exploring the Cognitive Dimension of Teaching Mathematics through Scheme-oriented Approach to Education (Orbis Scholae, available online [PDF])

WHAT DOES TEACHING WITH THE HEJNY METHOD LOOK LIKE?

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