Page: 231-245 Author: Škoda, J.; Doulík, P. Key words:
Innovative contemporary trends in teaching place the emphasis on respecting the individual characteristics of the pupil. Among the most important of these are children‘s preconccpts. These may be generally defined as the individual pupil‘s primary idea of a particular phenomenon, his or her own definition and structure formed before the impact of deliberate teaching. The child‘s pre-concept cannot, however, be identified simply with the child‘s knowledge. The way it is structured is more complex. Generally we can make a distinction between the cognitive (knowledge) element, the affective (attitude) element and sometimes the conative (performative) element. Liu and Ebenezer (2002) by contrast speak of an the external and the internal element of the pre-concept. The concepts are influenced (at the beginning to a greater extent) by spontaneous, elemental aspects; they are products of the individual‘s experience that originate in particular concrete situations or their context. Later they are influenced deliberately, most often by purposive school education. The concepts may include the pre-concepts within themselves (concepts at a different level), as well as misconceptions in the sense of mistaken ideas, but also the individual‘s mental maps or his or her emotional experiences relating to a given phenomenon. As follows from the general characteristics of pre-concepts, one of their most important properties is the interaction of the concept that represents a given phenomenon with other concepts that the individual has already interiorised, i.e. its integration into a mental map (Nicoll, Francisco, Nakhleh, 2001). As far as structuring is concerned we are already speaking of „concepts“ and not of phenomena, because in the mental maps of individual learners it is the concepts representing specific phenomena relating that create the structure. Conceptual integration may differ markedly between individuals and between individual concepts and may have a different structure, and so we can speak more precisely of a structuring process that can to a certain extent be quantitatively described and evaluated. This opens up the possibility of systematic diagnosis and its application in real educational praxis, where teachers themselves could carry out diagnosis and evaluation of children‘s concepts. We believe that only a conception of education based on a knowledge of concepts of particular phenomena, respecting these concepts and recasting them in co-operation with the pupil, can bring pupils the necessary competence and so additionally create the conditions for the lifelong education that is becoming essential for people‘s life in the modern, increasingly integrated society of the 21s1 century.