The good news at the beginning: Math can be learned, math can be conveyed, even if you do not have any natural affection for the numbers.
At least that’s what someone who should know says: Dr. Hendrik Simon, a qualified mathematician, textbook author, teacher trainer and dyscalculia researcher and therapist. The 42-year-old, who lives with his wife in Klein-Vernich, did his doctorate on his own cognitive science-based approach to the therapy of arithmetic weaknesses, which he has been using in his own practice with schoolchildren for over 20 years.
Account is designed to help parents and teachers
Hendrik Simon’s practice has been closed since the outbreak of the corona pandemic. He teaches the prospective primary school teachers at the Bergische Universität Wuppertal online. “I really miss real contact with the children, parents and students,” says Simon. In recent months, his Instagram account has proven to be a small substitute, on which he posts articles on mathematical-didactic topics several times a week. “I am primarily addressing parents, teachers and student teachers”, says Klein-Vernicher, who emphasizes that his contributions should also be useful in times of homeschooling.
What is immediately noticeable: Hendrik Simon’s approach to conveying the subject is playful and focused on the child. Numerous learning games for at home and school, easily self-made tools and interesting didactic questions make the account a real treasure trove for everyone who voluntarily (teachers) or currently involuntarily (parents) has to convey mathematical content.
Just a teacher is not enough
The range extends from exercises against rotating numbers, lockdown exercise materials for at home, short-term memory training and self-made multiplication tables to games on spatial thinking, even and odd numbers or the concept of quantities, as well as magic templates, exciting arithmetic tricks and experiments on statistics.
The account of the scientist, whose greatest passion, in addition to numbers, is unicycling, is enriched with interesting facts about learning and developmental psychology on the subject of math learning and dyscalculia. Again and again he clearly points out the most common mistakes that can be made with poor numeracy children and explains how to avoid them. Hendrik Simon describes the special thinking and learning processes of those children who do not really understand numbers and who tend to be at war with pluses, males and minuses as “colossally fascinating” for him. Teaching alone is not enough; rather, as a didactic expert, he is convinced that learning processes must be guided accordingly.
He proves that this is not always complicated, but, on the contrary, can often be very simple, with a colorful variety of educational games, all of which he invents himself. “Sometimes on request,” as he says. For a teacher who recently sent him a draft lesson with the request to give her tips for further differentiation, he quickly thought of a game of her own. “Queen of the Eleven” he called it. And set it on his account right away.
In general, the contact and exchange with the more than 7200 followers is very important to him. “You are welcome to contact me at any time with questions and suggestions, either I will answer personally or turn it into a topic for all subscribers a short time later,” he promises. In this way, his followers can influence the content he devotes himself to.
With his basic pedagogical stance that you have to put the child and his or her individual learning process at the center and not just encourage them to practice and memorize them, Hendrik Simon does not run into every open door. But that doesn’t bother him. He is convinced of what and how he does it. And he is happy when he can pass on his knowledge to parents and teachers, “not superficially or boldly, but content-wise correct and tangible”, as he says.
Mistakes are allowed
Anyone who wants to encourage learning and make boring school knowledge more exciting will quickly find what they are looking for at Hendrik Simon. “It’s not just about understanding, but also about motivation,” says the expert, and this does not come about through monotonous practice, but rather through playful, diverse exercise formats.
And then the mathematician, who has a doctorate, says something that is good for you in a world in which everything screams for optimization: “Errors are not bad. They are the product of a functioning thought process based on different premises than I have. ”When a child is told that wrong results are the result of laziness or even stupidity, they understandably lose both curiosity and interest.