Hejny method or funny mathematics
You may have noticed, dear parents, that children are not particularly keen on mathematics. Most of them literally struggle with maths from the start of the elementary school; this subject causes respect or even fear. However, Milan Hejný, a mathematics professor, has found a way to make mathematics accessible and even entertaining for children. For many years he has been showing children and teachers a new way of understanding it.
No more memorizing formulae and procedures. Children gradually discover connections and schemes on their own. Teachers only guide them. What matters is not the speed of understanding and finding a solution but schematic understanding of mathematics. The method displays mathematic tasks in a realistic way and explains correct results on mistakes.
Let children think
Cognitive process is important. Today we explain a lot to children and we force them to repeat. But children can come up with solutions themselves. While they discuss, certain logical schemes are formed in their heads. Each task is located in the so-called mathematical environment which is connected to children´s experience. The method will actually support mathematics as a part of children´s intellect.
It eliminates fear. Children must think for themselves and they can come to conclusions on their own. We do not punish them for using different procedures but we support creativity.
Do you want to know more about the Hejny method?
12 principles of the Hejny method:
1. Building schemes
It consists in interlinking knowledge of a well-known environment. Children have information in their minds but they cannot use them immediately. An unexpected question can surprise them. By using an image of a subject, person, thing in their minds, they will then find the right answer.
2. Working in environments
When children know an environment, they do not get distracted by unfamiliar things, they focus on the task. Hejny method uses the system of mathematical environments in such a manner that it takes into account different learning styles and workings of children´s minds. If children understand the principle of functioning of an example, it is suitable to use it in different environments– in this way the teacher verifies correctness of children´s understanding. Children find out that the example scheme repeats and only the environment changes…
3. Interlinking topics
Information is not presented to children mechanically but children are free to think of the particular knowledge which they can recall at any time. We do not separate phenomena and concepts but we adopt different strategies for solving tasks. Children eventually choose the manner which suits them best.
4. Character support and development
One of the main motivations in this method is to support children´s independent thinking. Pupils should not share opinions of a group only because they are the majority. Children should be able to reason, discuss and evaluate.
The tasks which children solve using the Hejny method do not scare them; they solve them with joy. The right kind of motivation is internal motivation. Children find solutions mainly thanks to their own efforts what motivates them to solve harder tasks and they realize the joy of success.
6. Real-life experience
The strategies of solving tasks are based on children´s own experience what means that children can come to conclusions on their own. For example, children “sew a dress” for a cube, automatically learning to calculate its perimeter and surface area.
7. Motivation to advance
The joy of success is the most effective motivation. Children are also motivated by praise of their classmates and teachers. If you are successful, you feel like working on it and you believe that you will succeed again.
8. Personal knowledge
When children are asked to build a square using three rods, they try, move the rods and find out that three rods are not enough to build a square. They build a triangle. No other object may be built with such a number and so the children have solved the task based on their judgement. In this way they can discover the schemes for calculating the perimeter and surface area of objects.
The typical image of a teacher is that of someone giving a lecture in front of a blackboard. Students listen, take notes and memorize them. In the Hejny method teachers play a different role. Pupils in the class think together, discuss, and the teacher only moderates the discussion, guides their observations and ideas.
10. Learning from mistakes
Hejny method uses mistakes as a means of learning. Children analyse wrong answers what brings them to a deeper knowledge which they remember faster. Teachers support mistakes and let children explain how they have come to their wrong answers.
11. Appropriate challenges
Maths textbooks prepared by professor Hejný contain tasks of different levels of difficulty. There are tasks for smarter but also for weaker students who do not experience shame as a result of solving easier tasks. Teachers distribute tasks according to pupils´ needs.
Unlike the usual method, with the Hejny method children do not need to wait long for the solution to appear on the blackboard. Instead, they find it based on cooperation. Pupils share their knowledge and the one who knows the answer will tell it to others. But this is not the end of that child´s role – he or she explains to other pupils how he/she has come to the result and answers their questions. Children build knowledge they think about, and their knowledge keeps deepening.
About the author:
Vít Hejný, the author of the method, analysed the reasons why pupils do not try to understand problems and why they learn formulae and rules by heart instead. However, he could not spread his knowledge due to the political situation. Later his knowledge was further elaborated by his son Milan Hejný based on his own experience. Together with his collegues they prepared a textbook in 1987. He is an author of alternative maths textbooks for classes 1-5 at elementary schools which were prepared based on his long-term experience. Professor Hejný promotes a new form of teaching with the following philosophy: “knowing does not mean memorizing but mainly understanding.”