I wanted to write this post a long time back, but I kept on deferring it not because of paucity of time , but because I was never in the mood to give full justice to it. Today happened to be one of those days where I felt like writing, and here I go. This is the first in a series of posts about various students in my class – a Grade 5 classroom in Shivaji Nagar, Govandi, where I teach Math and Science and the limited fundae of life I have to about 50 students.

**Amazing Aftab**: When I read his previous teacher’s comments about him , saying he was way above other students in terms of reading levels and grade requisite skills, and that he needed to be in a separate classroom with students of his ‘kind’, I was almost convinced about sending him to another class. But somehow I could relate so much to him that I decided to keep him in my class. He tops class in almost every class (by a margin that would earn him an AP in IIT ). He scored more than what I did when I was a fourth grader in the State Scholarship Exam. ( I am truly intimidated by this lad) He never shirks from work, and his handwriting at the top of the answer pile ( He is Roll Number 1, first even in that) , makes the mundane job of checking papers interesting.

My challenge in setting every higher order test is to try to force Aftab make a mistake, especially in Math. But the lad never misses, something that both thrills and annoys me. Just to appeal to his mathematical bent of mind , I taught him factorization once, and now he factorizes cubic polynomials( Grade Level 5). The other day when he finished work fast, I gave him a combinatorial problem : to find the number of ways to arrange 3 different things. I was pretty confident he would take a lot of time to do this and that I could meanwhile concentrate on teaching to the struggling students in my class . But the boy not only finished for 3 things, he also started hypothesizing how 4 things can be arranged in 4.3.2.1 = 4! ways. Phew!

Finally , I took the easy way.

I handed him the famous Russian mathematics book : “Mathematical circles” and have asked him to work on it.He waits everyday after school to master the prerequisites , and after finishing his work, takes out this book and gets on task. The book has managed to relieve me of some of my “problems” with him , but I am pretty sure he will be back asking for more.

Holding him to high expectations has really brought out the best in him . If not anything , Aftab has shown me one thing :

Not everyone can be a genius , but a genius can come from anywhere.

gr8 article man! by the way isnt mathematical circles too tough for a guy in 5th class? But if he can solve half the book in 2 years then there is no stopping him in getting a gold in IMO later.

I cannot agree more. I have seen a lot of “genius” in children who have been labelled otehrwise.

Very inspiring post! 🙂