Wolfville’s Dr. Zoltan Dienes to receive Hungarian honour

Published on August 12, 2009
SPECIAL VISITOR - Sándor Klein (right) and his wife, Julianna Kiss (left) are shown with Zoltan Dienes of Wolfville. Kiss met Dr. Dienes at the age of 10 when he demonstrated math games in her school in Hungary Bruce Dienes Photo

BY WENDY ELLIOTT AND BRUCE DIENES

Dr. Zoltan Dienes, 92, received a special visitor bearing a prestigious gift recently. Dr. Sándor Klein, professor of psychology at Pécs University in Hungary visited Wolfville to officially invite Dienes to receive a honorary doctorate.

Klein said the University of Pécs wants to recognize a lifetime of valuable work in the research and practice of teaching and learning mathematics. The doctorate will be presented in the fall semester.

The honorary degree is coming now, Klein added, because institutions often take a long time to move these things through and the award recognizes a whole lifetime of achievement.

Contribution to mathematics education

Klein mentioned there is a new NATO base in a small town in Hungary. With the influx of many families, the local school was being challenged because many NATO workers' children spoke different languages.

He was called in to consult and introduced Dienes' structured learning materials. The children were then able to learn mathematics through play, he noted, even though they did not speak the same languages.

Dienes has had a lasting impact on the way children learn mathematics in schools by describing the six stages of mathematical learning. A 2008 book Mathematics Education and the Legacy of Zoltan Paul Dienes was edited by Bharath Sriraman and published by the University of Montana.

A native of Hungary, Dienes emigrated to Canada in 1966. He still speaks Hungarian fluently and was especially happy to learn that his ideas are used and appreciated in

his native country.

In addition to an earned doctorate in mathematics from the University of

London, Dienes already has honorary doctorates from Mount Allison University, the University of Caen, the University of Sienna and the Exeter University in 1995.

Klein and Dienes worked together in the early 1970's at the Université de Sherbrooke, Québec ,where Dienes was the director of an

international psychomathematics research centre. He retired to Wolfville in 1988.