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  • Amanda Wang and Vivian Kou

Debunk the passion-driven learning miracle

“I enjoyed the intersection between religious roles and character power dynamics, and it brought me great joy to see a book that delved so deep into that– and a class that was invested as well” (Alyssa Sun 25’). Some come to school because they have to, while some hold an extraordinary passion for different classes. Students participate in various activities after school, and friends and sports become excellent motivation. Although not every student enjoys academic courses like Math, English, History, or others, students at Stevenson still manage to seek their own passion in these areas. Looking into these students' lives, math or literature can become a source of happiness and motivation for school.

Math may be among the least preferred courses due to its strenuousness and complexity of mathematical equations and rules. On the other hand, some students recognize the excitement and draw inspiration and motivation through their learning process in math. “When I started actually to study math in school, I was completely captivated by it. My childhood exclamations about the magic of math turned into an obsession with the subject,” says junior Xiaoyang Wu, who shows curiosity and enthusiasm when approaching math problems. Although challenging math problems may invoke anxieties, Xiaoyang strives to learn and challenge himself as he achieves a sense of accomplishment when being able to discover a pattern of solving difficult problems. In addition, he shows a profound understanding of his ability and admits, “Although it feels a bit narcissistic to say this, it is true that when I could easily figure out and correctly solve some puzzles, especially when my classmates were still struggling, I found that I have some talent in math.” Thus, his passion for math became one of his motivations for school.

When placed in the rigorous atmosphere of a math class, one might doubt its applicability in real life and struggle to solve or understand the content. The truth is that people don’t tend to realize how much math is around them and the sense of achievement that it can bring. Math has helped people understand the world and provides an effective way to address a variety of issues. Xiaoyang has been inspired by the effectiveness of mathematical strategies in real life scenarios. “The COVID pandemic demonstrates the power and benefits of applied math. Mathematical models have been employed by epidemiologists and mathematicians to monitor and forecast the virus's spread…I hope to one day contribute to society in even a small way. ”

Alyssa Sun ('25)'s collection of books for rainy days

Annotating, reading, and picking up newspapers may sound like a task for English class, a tough one that is obligated to complete in order to get a good grade. However, when looking at these tasks from another perspective, these boring obligations will soon turn into passions, which boosts a gloomy day. Sitting in a comfy bed on a rainy day with a book you like, reading can be a healing process, a passion: “I've always recognized and done reading for the positive benefits: it improves my vocab, broadens my thinking, and overall enjoyable. However, I'm not obligated to read constantly, or at all outside of school. Understanding that it's purely up to personal motive and goals helped me continue reading and even give up at times when a book isn't working for me” (Alyssa Sun 25’). Alyssa's unique passion for literature and history not only entertained her daily life but also brought great advantages to her learning experience as it widened her understanding of the world and her knowledge of English.

Alyssa ('25)'s stack of Wall of Street Journals

For a party, the loud music beats that you can sense with your body and the dark room with different colored lights flashing towards different directions may be the factors that capture one’s eye one’s passion for the party. Reading and partying may sound quite different and isolated from each other; however, the joy and excitement they can bring are equally balanced: “Picking up a good story is engaging in it past reading it--thinking about short stories I reread so many times I can still recall words from over a year ago, or battling with topics and questions in a particularly good article. It sticks with me, perhaps not always directly by name, but in thought” (Alyssa Sun 25’). Alyssa reflected not only just the reasoning behind her passion but also shared her personal experiences with literature and her connection to different books: “Writing about literature actually puts me more into the story than I usually am reading. It feels like I'm witnessing it in person, even becoming the characters at times. Analytical paragraphs (or really long rants between some of my friends and I) allow me to reflect and focus on the points I made while reading…” (Alyssa Sun 25’).

Alyssa’s engagement with literature allows her to enter a whole new world, exploring and kinds of genres in her imagination, while history provides her with another aspect and reading experience. “Standing near a monument or looking at a translated manuscript, I feel like I'm just another of the long line of scholars who have stood in that very place and found the same puzzle pieces to glimpse into the past.” The passion for History and English not only provide a sense of positivity and an understanding of the world, but it also motivated Alyssa to attended school and engage with the community: “discussing literature and history, whether with students in a circle or after class with teachers, definitely helped boost my understanding. It's also great to see how others argue a case or bring their own flare to interpretation” (Alyssa Sun 25’).

As students accumulate knowledge in academic courses, some discover their interests in forming personal connections with literature and others enjoy exploring various methods when solving math problems as they attain satisfaction after making an effort.


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