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Topic: Further Information: Dr. Zoltan Paul Dienes
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 13,020
Registered: 12/3/04
Further Information: Dr. Zoltan Paul Dienes
Posted: Jan 15, 2014 2:30 PM
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From The Chronicle Herald [Canada]. See
. Our appreciation to David McKillop for bringing
this information regarding Dr. Dienes to our
Life Legacy

DIENES, Dr. Zoltan Paul

September 11, 1916 - January 11, 2014

Age 97, of Wolfville, Nova Scotia, passed away
peacefully on January 11, 2014. Zoltan Dienes,
internationally renowned mathematician and
educator, was both a public figure and a much
loved family man.

Zoltan was born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in
1916, son of Paul and Valeria Dienes. His early
years were spent in Hungary, Austria, Italy and
France. He always had a fascination with
mathematics, even hiding behind a curtain to hear
his older brother's maths lesson, for which he
was deemed too young! At 15 he moved to England.
He received his Ph.D. from the University of
London in 1939. Zoltan understood the art and
aesthetics of mathematics and his passion was to
share this with teachers and children alike. He
was fascinated by the difficulties many people
had in learning mathematics and wanted others to
see the beauty of it as he did. Consequently, he
completed an additional degree in psychology in
order to better understand thinking processes. He
became known for his work in the psychology of
mathematics education from which he created the
new field of psychomathematics. Referred to as a
"maverick mathematician", Zoltan introduced
revolutionary ideas of learning complex
mathematical concepts in fun ways such as games
and dance, so that children were often unaware
that they were learning mathematics - they were
having a wonderful, exciting, creative time and
longing for more. He invented the Dienes
Multibase Arithmetic Blocks and many other games
and materials that embodied mathematical concepts.

According to a Montana Mathematics Enthusiast
monograph from 2007, "The name of Zoltan P.
Dienes stands with those of Jean Piaget and
Jerome Bruner as a legendary figure whose
theories of learning have left a lasting
impression on the field of mathematics education.
Š Dienes' notion of embodied knowledge presaged
other cognitive scientists who eventually came to
recognize the importance of embodied knowledge
and situated cognition - where knowledge and
abilities are organized around experience as much
as they are organized around abstractions. Dienes
was an early pioneer in what was later to be
called sociocultural perspectives and
democratization of learning."

Zoltan dedicated his professional career to
improving mathematics education all over the
world including England, Australia, New Guinea,
the United States of America, Canada, Germany,
Italy, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, France, Spain
and Greece. He founded the International Study
Group for Mathematics Learning, and the Journal
of Structural Learning. He was the director of
the Centre de Recherches en Psychomathématiques
at the Université de Sherbrooke in Quebec for
over ten years, collaborating with researchers
and educators from across the globe. He developed
full grade school mathematics curricula for
Italian, English, French and German schools. In
addition to his work in mainstream school
systems, he could be found with children in the
tribal highlands of New Guinea, in the barrios of
Rio de Janeiro, with First Nations and Métis
classes in Manitoba, or training Peace Corps
workers to teach in the Philippines. After his
retirement, he taught part time in the Department
of Education at Acadia University and many local
grade school teachers would remember his visits
to their classrooms. He published profusely,
authoring numerous articles, educational
materials and more than 30 books, including a
memoir and a collection of poetry. He continued
to publish well into his nineties, including A
Concrete Approach to the Architecture of
Mathematics, published by the University of
Auckland, New Zealand, in 2009.

Zoltan received honourary degrees from the
University of Caen, France; University of Siena,
Italy; University of Pécs, Hungary; Mount Allison
University, Canada; and Exeter University,
England. In 2003 he was made an Extraordinary
Member of the Canadian Mathematics Education
Study Group in recognition of his outstanding
contributions to mathematics education. Zoltan
was a true 'renaissance man' with a deep love for
music, art and nature. He was fluent in French,
Italian, Hungarian, German and English and
conversed in a number of other languages. He
loved to sing and the family could often be heard
singing together in Hungarian, Italian or Gaelic.
He also enjoyed the outdoors - hiking,
cross-country skiing and swimming were some of
his favourite pastimes.

Zoltan was a deeply spiritual person and had a
deep relationship with God throughout his life.
He became a convinced Quaker in 1952. He
volunteered with the Friends Service Council and
was a member of Ministry and Counsel for the
Montreal Quakers. In Wolfville, he attended the
Wolfville Baptist Church and at times also
visited the Canaan Third Horton Baptist Church. A
prolific writer of poetry, his poems were often
mystical in nature and filled with an exploration
of man's divine purpose. In later life, as his
perception of the purpose of Jesus Christ was
developing further, he undertook to put into
poetic form a paraphrase of the four Gospels, the
book of Acts and part of Romans, using classical

Zoltan married Tessa (Cooke), his childhood
friend, in 1938 and they had 68 years together
before Tessa passed in 2006. They had five
children, fourteen grandchildren and seventeen
great grandchildren. He is predeceased by wife
Tessa, brother Gedeon (Maya), daughter Jasmine
Dienes-Stevens (Robert Stevens); son Nigel
(Karin) and grandsons Russell and Bruce. He is
survived by and deeply missed by daughters Jancis
Nicola and Sarah; son Bruce (Gwenyth Dwyn);
grandchildren Zoltan, Dan, Mandy, Jamie, Raj,
Rilka, Ramana, Tom, Daniel, Rachelle, David and
Melanie and all the great-grandchildren.

A memorial page is available at www.zoltandienes.com/posts/in-memoriam/
Donations in memory can be made to the Canadian
Friends Service Committee, www.quakerservice.ca
or Compassion Canada,

Memorial service will be held at the Wolfville
Baptist Church at 10am on Saturday, January 18th.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Serenity
Lindsay Annapolis Valley Funeral Home and
Chapels, Wolfville Chapel, 568 Main Street

Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244
E-mail: jbecker@siu.edu

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