How can you motivate students to become passionate about your subject? Challenges and frustrations are typical parts of the learning process, and gifted students’ needs are often more demanding. When you successfully nurture a passion for mathematics in your students, it will transform everyday problems into exciting learning experiences.
1. Mathematical Music
“Math is typically taught as all scales and no music.” Ed Zaccaro has over 30 years of experience teaching math and working with gifted students, and he understands what it takes to properly inspire gifted learners. You can learn more about these proven methods in his course, 8 Ways to Spark Intellectual Curiosity and Passion in Mathematically Gifted Students.
“Imagine if you were a violin player or a piano or voice and all you did was scales,” Zaccaro explains. “It’s very unlikely that you would develop a passion for music with just all scales.” The same concept applies to learning math. Students are less likely to be passionate about math if they are only taught boring word problems and basic skills.
Providing students with high-value, interesting, and engaging material will yield better results. Make sure the content is relatable so students can develop a passion for what you’re teaching them. As Zaccaro says, “Passion often leads to excellence.”
2. The Power of Passion
Zaccaro elaborates on how “the child’s interests and passions do not necessarily correspond with their areas of giftedness.” Just because a student is gifted in a particular area doesn’t automatically mean they are passionate about the subject. As a teacher, you can help foster a sense of curiosity and passion by introducing your students to material that fuels their gift.
“If you’re not passionate about something, you’re not going to put in thousands of hours of practice to try to increase your ability.” Zaccaro uses his son as an example to illustrate how someone without a natural aptitude for a subject can improve over time with plenty of practice and determination. Even if a student isn’t gifted in math, they can still learn to enhance their skill set when given the proper motivation. Making a game out of math problems can also be a fun way to get your students more engaged.
“To nurture passion,” Zaccaro says, “show children important uses of mathematics in real-life investigation.” He also emphasizes the importance of teaching students that it’s okay to make mistakes and not to be afraid of failure as long as they make an effort. You can help put them at ease by showing your students how adults have made math errors in the past and explaining what we can learn from these mistakes.
3. Grit and Giftedness
Zaccaro shows how giftedness is not necessary when you have grit. “We have to get over the obsession with just IQ, and there are other facets to being gifted that are very important.” Although the ability to understand math may not be quite as easy for everyone, as long as a student displays determination and perseverance, they will learn the invaluable life skill of working hard for what they want to achieve.
Every teacher has the power to instill this growth mindset in their students, whether it’s for learning about math or any other subject. As Zaccaro says, “Children must not be allowed to confine themselves to an intellectual box where everything is easy.” Challenge them to think beyond the traditional ways, and help to encourage creative problem-solving. You too can inspire curiosity through engaging with your students, fostering their strengths, and meeting their diverse needs.
Interested in learning more about how you can nurture students’ curiosity in math? Explore the course demo on 8 Ways to Spark Intellectual Curiosity and Passion in Mathematically Gifted Students today!