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One of the greatest mathematicians Andrew Wiles once told that it is really important to give students a chance to work with passionate teachers before starting secondary education, and it is not easy to do so, even in America.

He knew by his experience because he was determined to solve Fermat's Last Theorem when he was only 10 years old. Many of us agree that being passionate is just as important as experience and paper qualifications.

Is there a system to encourage mathematics teachers to be passionate? And how can (we make it easier for) students to realize that their teacher is passionate in mathematics?

In December 2021, I created my own combinatorics challenge and sent it to many of experienced and qualified university lecturers but none of them could sense the importance of the issue. Finally an overseas professor told the problem is good enough for a university research project. That encouraged me a lot, and after working with it for couple of months I was able to solve the problem and generate 12 new sequences which are published on OEIS. After that I have created another 4 new problems related to grid paths and generated yet another 4 completely new sequences which are already published on OEIS.

I think by doing such things I can gather new knowledge and be an example to students for how to be committed to their studies by finding ways to get maximum output from the very little they know.

I'm doing this as my passion without receiving any kind of encouragement from local bodies, but if there is a way of giving value for such personal research works like happening in university level, it would be great encouragement for mathematics teachers to be passionate in subject.

What would you suggest to produce passionate teachers who can inspire students also to be passionate in mathematics ?

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    $\begingroup$ Dear educators, I raise this issue , as I got to know by ministry sources in my country , we don't have such a system to give value for teachers global achievements but I firmly believe there may be such setups in developed countries, if so you can share your experience here to see what we can suggest to our officials regarding this matter. $\endgroup$ May 31, 2023 at 2:52
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    $\begingroup$ It's not clear what you are asking, nor the level of students. I've known several math teachers who have done "service work" that did not directly provide them with any job performance rewards, who just liked mathematics and liked sharing it with those who were also interested. For example, see the very many and very detailed older Pat's Blog entries (random examples from 2009). But not every student taking math classes needs to be passionate about math. Were you passionate about each of history, literature, biology, etc. when you took these classes? $\endgroup$ May 31, 2023 at 19:13
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    $\begingroup$ About the clarity of the question: (1) Are you asking about teachers of 10-year-old students? 12-year-old? 14-year-old? (2) Are you asking about teachers who are passionate about the subject matter they have to teach each day, or who are passionate about pursuing mathematics outside of their teaching duties? It seems the second, but I thought I'd ask. $\endgroup$
    – user1815
    Jun 2, 2023 at 1:33
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    $\begingroup$ Does Wiles cite a passionate teacher causing him to be interested in FLT when he was 10? Did a passionate teacher inspire you to create your combinatorics challenge? $\endgroup$
    – Nick C
    Jun 10, 2023 at 13:57
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    $\begingroup$ Wiles said he found a book stating FLT in a library, on his own I believe. $\endgroup$
    – KCd
    Jun 14, 2023 at 8:04

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"I'm doing this as my passion without receiving any kind of encouragement from local bodies [...]"

That is evidence that you have passion for mathematics.

Is there a system to encourage mathematics teachers to be passionate?

External rewards offered by bureaucratic organizations to mathematics teachers would create a dilemma: are the teachers motivated primarily by the external rewards, or primarily by mathematics itself?

Andrew Wiles is an example of somebody who is truly passionate about mathematics. However, among those who are passionate about mathematics, Andrew Wiles is unusual. Andrew Wiles has been both unusually ambitious and unusually successful.

From our retrospective point of view, we need more people who will take the first step along a similar path. However, Andrew Wiles didn't know what the outcome would be when he took the first step. If he had openly disclosed what he was trying to do during the first few months or years of his seven-year-journey to reach a proof of FLT, then he may have appeared to be a sad example of somebody caught up in a quixotic and doomed-to-fail undertaking.

To avoid the trap known as "survivorship bias", we might think of paying attention to people who tried and failed to resolve Fermat's Last Theorem. However, they would also not be typical or representative examples of people who are passionate about math. They were too ambitious to be typical examples.

In December 2021, I created my own combinatorics challenge and sent it to many of experienced and qualified university lecturers but none of them could sense the importance of the issue. Finally an overseas professor told the problem is good enough for a university research project. That encouraged me a lot, and after working with it for couple of months I was able to solve the problem and generate 12 new sequences which are published on OEIS. After that I have created another 4 new problems related to grid paths and generated yet another 4 completely new sequences which are already published on OEIS.

If there were a venue where you could share your story in detail, then perhaps it could be fully understood by a mass audience. If mathematical passion is contagious, then your story could increase passion for mathematics.

On the other hand, from the point of view of a mass audience, the mathematical thinking of Andrew Wiles is a black box. People are impressed by the facts of his life, but naturally they aren't likely to acquire passion for mathematics by hearing vague descriptions of concepts beyond their understanding.

Passion for mathematics isn't a byproduct of hearsay, or superficial visual inspection of math. It is a byproduct of direct tasting, chewing on, and absorption of mathematics.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for sharing your opinion with much relevance to the post. $\endgroup$ Oct 10, 2023 at 11:05

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