Vol 18, No 3 (2020): Varga 100, Special Issue, Volume 1

Published November 4, 2020

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Articles

Report of the conference "Connecting Tamás Varga’s Legacy and Current Research in Mathematics Education": November 6-8, 2019, Budapest, Hungary
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On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Hungarian mathematics educator, didactician and reform leader Tamás Varga, a conference on mathematics education has been organized in November 2019 and held at the Hungarian Academy of Science.

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Tamás Varga’s reform movement and the Hungarian Guided Discovery approach
11-28

This paper presents Tamás Varga’s work focusing especially on the Hungarian Complex Mathematics Education reform project led by him between 1963 and 1978 and the underlying conception on mathematics education named “Guided Discovery approach”. In the first part, I describe Varga’s career. In the second part, I situate his reform projec...t in its international and national historical context, including the international “New Math” movement and the “Guided Discovery” teaching tradition, something which is embedded in Hungarian mathematical culture. In the third part, I propose a didactic analysis of Varga’s conception on mathematics education, underlining especially certain of its characteristics which can be related to Inquiry Based Mathematics Education. Finally I briefly discuss Varga’s legacy today.

Subject Classification: 97-03, 97B20, 97D20, 97D40, 97D50

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Willy Servais and Tamás Varga A Belgian Hungarian perspective on teaching school mathematics
29-38

Willy Servais and Tamás Varga had a major influence on the development of mathematics education during the 1960s and 1970s, both in their home countries and internationally. In 1971 they jointly published Teaching School Mathematics–A Unesco Source Book, a review of curriculum reforms that were under way in different parts of the world. The ...book, presenting several modern syllabuses as well as examples of classroom techniques and segments of teacher-student dialogues, provided an often consulted guide to the field of mathematics education. We re-read this book and in this way acquire a unique insight into the modernization efforts of school mathematics during the 1960s and early 1970s. We take this opportunity to discuss the sometimes partly divergent views of Servais and Varga on modern mathematics education as reflected in this book.

Subject Classification: 97-03

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What can we learn from Tamás Varga’s work regarding the arithmetic-algebra transition?
39-50

Tamás Varga’s Complex Mathematics Education program plays an important role in Hungarian mathematics education. In this program, attention is given to the continuous “movement” between concrete and abstract levels. In the process of transition from arithmetic to algebra, the learner moves from a concrete level to a more abstract level. I...n our research, we aim to track the transition process from arithmetic to algebra by studying the 5-8-grader textbooks and teacher manuals edited under Tamás Varga's supervision. For this, we use the appearance of “working backward” and “use an equation” heuristic strategies in the examined textbooks and manuals, which play a central role in the mentioned process.

Subject Classification: 97-01, 97-03, 97D50

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A whole new vigor: About Montel’s book "Les mathématiques et la vie" (1947)
51-60

In this paper, we consider a talk presented by the mathematician Paul Montel in Paris in 1944, dedicated to a general presentation of the importance of mathematics in everyday’s life. The text of this talk, and the context of its elaboration, allows various inceptions in the French mathematical life in the middle of 20th century. In particula...r Montel’s insistence on applications of mathematics strongly contrasts with the main tendencies of the French mathematical stage after the war under the impulse of the Bourbaki group.

Subject Classification: 97A40, 01A60, 60-03

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Inquiry based mathematics education and the development of learning trajectories
63-89

This article is based on the panel on inquiry based mathematics education and the development of learning trajectories held at the VARGA 100 Conference. After an introduction presenting the theme and organization of the panel, this article focuses on the diversity of conceptualizations of inquiry based education existing today in mathematics ed...ucation and their influence on the vision and development of learning trajectories. More precisely, it considers the conceptualizations respectively associated with Realistic Mathematics Education, Genetic Constructivism, Tamás Varga’s educational approach and the Anthropological Theory of the Didactic, presented by the panellists, and also shows the efforts undertaken in European projects to reach consensusal visions.

Subject Classification: 97C30Q, 97D10, 97D20, 97D30, 97D40, 97D50

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Categorising question question relationships in the Pósa method
91-100

The doctoral research of the author – with a reverse didactic engineering (RDE) methodology – aims at reconstructing the theoretical background of the ‘intuitively developed’ Pósa method for inquiry-based learning mathematics (IBME) in Hungarian talent education. Preliminary results of the second step of this theorization is presented,... which applies tools of the Anthropological Theory of the Didactic (ATD). A model is proposed for categorizing question-question relationship with 3 categories: helping question, follow-up question and question of a kernel. The first two of them are claimed to represent two types (relevant or not) of generating-derived questions relationship. The model is also a prospective tool for connected task- and curriculum design and analysis within IBME development.

Subject Classification: 97D20, 97D40, 97D50, 97E50, 97K30

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A computational thinking problem-thread for grade 7 students and above from the Pósa method
101-110

Lajos Pósa has been developing his “learning through discovery” (Győri & Juhász, 2018) method since 1988. His weekend math camps are focused on fostering problem-solving skills and high-level mathematical-thinking skills in gifted students from grades 7 to 11. One of the core aspects of the method is the structure of the problems, al...l problems are part of a complex, intertwined, and rich network. In this article we analyze a computational thinking problem-thread and its role in the camps’s network of problems (Gosztonyi, 2019), and show some aspects of the method. The insights gained using this method can be useful in other contexts. The possible adaptation of the method to secondary and high schools is briefly discussed as well.

Subject Classification: 97D40

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Mapping students’ motivation in a problem oriented mathematics classroom
111-121

This research focuses on mapping students’ motivation by implementing problem-solving activities, namely how the problem-oriented approach affects the students’ commitment, motivation, and attitude to learning. As a practicing teacher, the author faced difficulties with motivation and sought to improve her practice in the form of action res...earch as described in this paper. Based on the literature, the author describes sources of motivation as task interest, social environment, opportunity to discover, knowing why, using objects, and helping others. The author discusses the effect of problem-oriented teaching on the motivation of 7th-grade students. In this paper, the results of two lessons are presented.

Subject Classification: 97C20, 97D40, 97D50, 97D60

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Is it possible to develop some elements of metacognition in a Mathematics classroom environment?
123-132

In an earlier exploratory survey, we investigated the metacognitive activities of 9th grade students, and found that they have only limited experience in the “looking back” phase of the problem solving process. This paper presents the results of a teaching experiment focusing on ninth-grade students’ metacognitive activities in the proces...s of solving several open-ended geometry problems. We conclude that promoting students’ metacognitive abilities makes their problem solving process more effective.

Subject Classification: 97D50, 97G40

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Freudenthal fantasy on the bus, an American adaptation
133-142

In the 1960’s two mathematicians, Hans Freudenthal in the Netherlands and Tamás Varga in Hungary, had argued that people learn mathematics by being actively involved and investigating realistic mathematical problems. Their method lives on in today’s teaching and learning through the various components of cooperative and active learning, by... taking ownership in learning, and learning through student dialogue. The goal is to create a welcoming classroom atmosphere in which play takes the front seat. One such scenario is visiting various (animal) stations at the zoo by bus (illustrated by pictures). Passengers are getting on and off the bus at each station (illustrated by arrows), which is modeled on the open number line. This adapted and modified action research was carried out with 5-yearl-old children in public schools of Staten Island, NY in 2019.

Subject Classification: 97D40, 97F20, 97F30

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"How to be well-connected?" An example for instructional process planning with Problem Graphs
145-155

Teachers’ design capacity at work is in the focus of didactical research worldwide, and fostering this capacity is unarguably a possible turning point in the conveyance of mathematical knowledge. In Hungary, the tradition hallmarked by Tamás Varga is particularly demanding towards teachers as they are supposed to be able to plan their long-t...erm processes very carefully. In this contribution, an extensive teaching material designed in the spirit of this tradition will be presented from the field of Geometry. For exposing its inner structure, a representational tool, the Problem Graph is introduced. The paper aims to demonstrate that this tool has potential for analyzing existing resources, helping teachers to reflect on their own preparatory and classroom work, and supporting the creation of new designs.

Subject Classification: 97D40, 97D50, 97D80, 97G10, 97U30

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Potential, actual and practical variations for teaching functions: cases study in China and France
157-166

This contribution is based on two major hypotheses: task design is the core of teachers’ work, and variation is the core of task design. Taking into account variation in task design has a profound theoretical foundation in China and France. Developing my PhD with two co-supervisors, in China and France, I wish to seize this opportunity for co...nstructing an analytic model of “teaching mathematics through variation” making profit of this theoretical diversity. This model distinguishes between potential variation and practical variation and is based on the process of transforming potential variation into actual variation, and of using practical variation for rethinking potential variation. The design of this model is based both on theoretical networking, and on case studies, in France and China. In this contribution, we will focus on a critical aspect in the two cases, from potential to practical variation.

Subject Classification: 97-06

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Group Work at High School According to the Method of Tamás Varga
167-176

The aim of our research is to develop students’ logical thinking. For this reason, Hungarian mathematics teachers need to be encouraged to try new methods which induce greater student involvement. Research all over the world prove that self-instruction or self-verbalizing has high effect on the learning process. This was one of the key elemen...ts of Tamás Varga’s experiment in high school. In our classroom experiments we are using a special cooperative method from Kagan among 14-18 years old students, called Sage and Scribe structure. We are looking for the answers to the following question: Does this method make mathematics lessons more enjoyable and more comfortable for students? Furthermore, we assume this structure could open the gate toward other collaborative and cooperative teaching technics.

Subject Classification: 97D40

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