Articles| Kellner, the Wealthiest Czech, Stands in...

Kellner, the Wealthiest Czech, Stands in for Government. He Invests Millions to Improve Teaching at Schools

23. July 2012 - moderniobec.ihned.cz Czech teachers lack tools to unravel the mystery of how their students think. The Kellners’ foundation wants to change that, and to that end aims to improve the teacher training in the Czech Republic. Billionaire Petr Kellner is already donating millions of Czech crowns a year to this project.

Petr Kellner, the wealthiest Czech, has started to do what the government is not doing. He is donating several million Czech crowns every year for teacher training. They are, to put it simply, learning how to teach better.

International organizations usually criticize the inefficient system used for assessing Czech schoolchildren’s work. For example, when last year OECD commissioners mapped the Czech teachers’ teaching methods, they were rather taken aback by the fact that when grading mathematics work, teachers tend to pay the greatest attention to whether or not the result of a problem is double underlined.

Experts say that Czech teachers lack keys to decode their students’ thought processes.

“Our project is pursuing the objective of having schools develop each child’s potential to the maximum possible extent. We need methodological support for this,” explains the spokesperson for the Kellners’ foundation, Jitka Tkadlecová.

She would not specify the amount earmarked for the training; it is reportedly millions per year.

The foundation will offer keys to every school

This money will help pay a team of experts who are preparing a pool of problems, together with recommendations for the teachers. These recommendations will tell them on what they should focus in written tests and oral examinations.

“The teachers will learn that when their students’ solutions contain fewer than ten pictures, they are neglecting visual understanding in mathematics,” Professor Milan Hejný, a member of the team that will start to prepare these keys in September, outlines the language of the new aid for math teachers.

They will pull the teachers themselves into the creation of these keys, and the foundation will then offer the outcome to all schools free of charge. A similar project for Czech language teaching has been running for a year and a half with support from Kellner’s foundation.

While in countries such as Australia and New Zealand such keys have been in use for more than 20 years, the Czech Ministry of Education discontinued work on them after the departure of Minister Ondřej Liška.

(Author: Julie Daňková, excerpt from the text)

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