Path of a Mathematician: Favorite Student?

| May 2, 2011

Every educator had this experience: what type of student is the best?  Is it the straight-A student, is it the inquisitive kid, or is it the smartest pupil?

For mathematics, the answer is a toss.  Sure, I have had the straight-A students who hardly breaks a sweat doing any problems.  I had the overachievers who had to earn their stripes since age 7.  But the students I enjoy the most are those who were having fun in the class doing what they do.  They are a special breed: they can’t stop talking about a class topic, even outside of class; they rush into the classroom, beaming with joy at a brand new solution to a problem.

Mathematics is not just a career, it is not just a job – it is a way of life.  It is like falling in love, you can’t stop thinking about that special woman.  You wonder what kind of music she listens, what kind of books she enjoys, and what genre of film she likes   Passion is a force.  Those who have the passion think about new problems, new challenges, and new ideas constantly.  You don’t have to tell them, they do it on their own.

To be fair, I am not this type, and to be deadly honest, not at all.  But I do enjoy the occasional mental teasers.  I do relish the feeling of being challenged, and rising above the obstacle.    When was the last time someone challenged you to a puzzle?