Tomas Chrobák

Základní škola Baška, Czech Republic

Tomas Chrobák

Tomáš grew up in the Czech Republic and teaches in an industrial part of the country still significantly affected by heavy industry. In this area, many still have the idea that school pupils should be silent, copy from the blackboard, and always take their cue from the teacher. Changes to education are not popular, and creating innovation is difficult: but despite these challenges, Tomáš has been able to pioneer a less traditional approach to teaching with excellent results. In school, he teaches and develops the Hejny method – based largely on the concepts of discovery, collaboration and the joy of learning – for which he also creates resources used by over 3,000 teachers and 50,000 pupils at 750 Czech kindergarten, primary and secondary schools.

Part of Tomáš’ approach is the belief that the key to good education is to have trust in the students, their interests, and their desire to learn new things. His goal is to develop creativity, humble self-confidence and the ability to make good arguments. This approach does not consider knowledge to be the only goal of education: it is also a means of helping pupils to shape their own personality. His students take charge of their own education and often prepare tasks, lead the classes, and evaluate themselves according to objective criteria. As a result, their achievements have sky-rocketed: in 2015, his pupils won the top three places at the Mathematical Olympiad, and in 2017, they won eight cups out of nine in the Golden Brick math competition.

In recent years, Tomáš has also had an increasing number of opportunities to influence the direction of national education. He has been appointed a member of the National Cabinet, which consists of 15 experts from various fields of education selected to create methodological materials and workshops for teachers throughout the Czech Republic. In 2019, he competed against 124 other teachers to win the Czech Republic Teacher Prize.

If he wins the Global Teacher Prize, Tomáš would use the funds to support his Saturday School by Play project, which puts on activities for children who do not have family support or cannot attend after-school clubs. In the long term, he would like to invest in a non-profit company named H-mat, which creates materials that help teachers structure lessons more actively around pupils and increase the amount of discussion in class. This would help move beyond traditional methods and assist teachers in meeting the needs of their students.