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Prof. RNDr., CSc. Milan Hejný (1936) - Biography

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Finding sense in what gives other people joy is the way to live a happy life

Milan Hejný was born on 23 May 1936 inTurčianský Svätý Martin, Slovakia. His mother Naděžda, née Pietrová, was a Slovak actress while his father Vít Hejný, a mathematician and a teacher grew up in Litovel, Czech Republic, but later answered the call of president Masaryk to help build a schooling system in Slovakia. At the time of the Slovak National Uprising his parents participated in the resistance. Milan's mother worked as an announcer with the resistance radio in Banská Bystrica, his father, a former officer of the Czechoslovak army, collaborated with the partisans. The family went into hiding following the Nazi authorities' in absentia death penalty judgment for his father. The whole family eventually survived the war including Milan's uncle Ivan Pietor who had fled to the Soviet Union and took part in the drafting of the Košice Governmental Program. After the end of the war his uncle become a minister in the newly-established government and his father found a job at the Ministry of Education in Prague. For this reason the Hejný family resettled to Bohemia, only to return to Martin, Slovakia after the communist putsch of February 1948. In 1954 Milan Hejný graduated from high school and left to Prague to study Faculty of Mathematics and Physics at Charles University. There he met his future wife Eva Brzoňová, a stomatology student. The newly-weds resolved the lack of apartments by moving back to Slovakia where the University of Transport had been transferred. Milan Hejný later left the academic career and became fully dedicated to practical teaching. He began developing a math teaching method, building on his fathers' pre-war elaboration. At present, this method is called teaching focused on chart development and it differs from the traditional formula memorizing by activating a child's own competences in understanding mathematical rules. In the 1980s Milan Hejný made an effort to implement his method into new grammar school geometry textbooks but was rejected. After 1989 Milan Hejný worked at the Ministry of Education and lectured at foreign universities (among others in Canada and the US). Since 2005 he and his team had worked on mathematics textbooks for elementary schools which had then been published in 2007-2011. The popularity and practical influence of the so-called Hejný's method has been rising in the past years and there are an increasing number of Czech schools which have adopted this teaching method.

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