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
Tamás Varga writes about the use of tools: "The rational use of tools - the colored bars, the Dienes set, the logical set, the geoboard, and some other tools - is an element of our experiment that is important for all students, but especially for disadvantaged learners." (Varga T. 1977) The range of tools that can be used well in teaching has...grown significantly over the years. This paper compares spatial geometric modeling kits. Tamás Varga uses the possibilities of the Babylon building set available in Hungary in the 1970s, collects space and flat geometry problems for this (Varga T. 1973). Similarly, structured kits with significantly more options have been developed later, e.g. ZomeTool and 4D Frame. These tools are regularly used in the programs of the International Experience Workshop (http://www.elmenymuhely.-hu/?lang=en). Teachers, schools that have become familiar with the versatile possibilities of these sets, use them often in the optional and regular classes. We recorded a lesson on video where secondary students worked with the 4D Frame kit. We make some comments and offer some thoughts on this lesson.
Subject Classification: 97G40, 97D40
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
This theoretical paper is devoted to the presentation of the manifold opportunities in using a little-known but powerful mathematical manipulative, the so-called prime building blocks, originally invented by two close followers of Tamás Varga, to support discovery of various concepts in arithmetic in middle school, including the Fundamental Th...eorem of Arithmetic or as it is widely taught, prime factorization. The study focuses on a teaching proposal to show how students can learn about greatest common divisor (GCD) and least common multiple (LCM) with understanding, and meanwhile addresses internal connections and levels of abstractness within elementary number theory. The mathematical and methodological background to understanding different aspects of the concept prime property are discussed and the benefits of using prime building blocks to scaffold students’ discovery are highlighted. Although the proposal was designed to be suitable for Hungarian sixth graders, mathematical context and indications for the use of the manipulative in both primary and high school are given.
Subject Classification: F60, C30, E40, U60
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
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
Tamás Varga’s mathematics education experiment covered not just mathematics, but also other related topics. In many of his works he clearly stated that computer science can support the understanding of mathematics as much as mathematics supports informatics. On the other hand, not much later than the introduction of the new curriculum in 197...8, personal computers started to spread, making it possible to teach informatics in classes and in extracurricular activities. Varga’s guided discovery approach has a didactic value for other age groups as well, not only in primary school. Its long-lasting effect can be observed even in present times. Having reviewed several educational results in the spirit of Tamás Varga, we have decided to present an extracurricular course. It is an open study group for age 12-18. Students solve problems by developing Python programs and, according to our experiences, this results in a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts.
Subject Classification: 97B10, 97B20, 97D50, 97N80, 97P20, 97P30, 97P40, 97P50, 97U70
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.
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
For statistics education, a key question is how to design learning paths to statistical inference that are elementary enough that the learners can understand the concepts and that are rich enough to develop the full complexity of statistical inference later on. There are two ways to approach this problem: One is to restrict the complexity. Info...rmal Inference considers a reduced situation and refers to resampling methods, which may be completely outsourced to computing power. The other is to find informal ways to explore situations of statistical inference, also supported with the graphing and simulating facilities of computers. The latter orientates towards the full complexity of statistical inference though it tries to reduce it for the early learning encoun-ters. We argue for the informal-ways approach as it connects to Bayesian methods of inference and allows for a full concept of probability in comparison to the Informal Inference, which reduces probability to a mere frequentist concept and – based on this – restricts inference to a few special cases. We also develop a didactic framework for our analysis, which includes the approach of Tamás Varga.
Subject Classification: 97K10, 97K70, 97K50, 97D20
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
The role of logic in mathematics education has been widely discussed from the seventies and eighties during the “modern maths period” till now, and remains still a rather controversial issue in the international community. Nevertheless, the relevance of discrete mathematics and algorithmic thinking for the development of heuristic and logic...al competences is both one of the main points of the program of Tamás Varga, and of some didactic teams in France. In this paper, we first present the semantic perspective in mathematics education and the role of logic in the Hungarian tradition. Then, we present insights on the role of research problems in the French tradition. Finely, we raise some didactical issues in algorithmic thinking at the interface of mathematics and computer science.
Subject Classification: 97E30
Based on the literature, Pólya was influential in problem-posing research. The present paper draws attention to a book written with Pólya's collaboration, which has not yet received sufficient emphasis in the problem-posing literature. On the other hand, Pólya's impact on mathematics education in Hungary has been significant, including the p...roblem-posing paradigm. Two works, published only in Hungarian, that rely heavily on problem-posing are highlighted. Furthermore, it is presented how problemposing appeared in the Hungarian Complex Mathematics Teaching Experiment (1962-78) led by Tamás Varga.
Subject Classification: 97D50
Aim of this presentation is to summarize the influence of Tamas Varga on the Italian research and practice concerning didactics of mathematics since the 70s of the 20th centuries. While being in Budapest for the Conference I noticed that this influence was not known by most Hungarian mathematics educators. I guess that also in Italy, only the t...eacher educators of my generation know Varga’s influence on the teaching and learning of mathematics in primary school. Hence I start from a brief summary of development of mathematics curriculum in Italy (mainly in primary school) in the last decades of the 20th century. I focus some elements that may be connected with Varga’s influence and, later, some recent development of them.
Subject Classification: 97G20, 97-U6, 97A40
Probability theory and mathematical statistics are traditionally one of the most difficult chapters of mathematics to teach. One of the authors, Péter Princz has experience in teaching various topics via computer programming of the problem at hand as a class activity. The proposed method is to involve programming as a didactic tool in hard-to-...teach topics. The intended goal in this case is to implement a naïve Bayes-classifier algorithm in Python and demonstrate the machine-learning capabilities of it by applying it to a real-world dataset of edible or poisonous mushrooms. The students would implement the algorithm in a playful and interactive way. The proposed incremental development process aligns well with the spirit of Tamás Varga who considered computers as modern tools of experimental problem solving as early as in the 1960s.
Subject Classification: 97D40, 97D50, 97K50, 97K99, 97M60, 97P40, 97P50, 97U50