My 9th grader just got his Scantron assessment back. It's this reading and math test they take three times a year. He ranked at 10% nationally in math and at 86% in reading. In other words, supposedly 90% of students are better at math than him, but I kind of doubt it; while he is sort of bad at math, he's also not a very good test-taker. I bet it's more that only 50-70% are better at actual number work. People are so weirdly rotten at basic arithmetic. His reading score seems about right. He can discuss the difference between an indirect object and a prepositional object; can you?

Because I regularly scored above 99% on these tests when I was in school, I have, perhaps, a different perspective than some. It all came so naturally to *me*, but this kid will never be able to Algebra his way out of a paper bag. And I don't really care. I drag him, as patiently as possible, through the math course every day of every year like it's Groundhog Day, while at the same time, he's acing what to do with quotation marks.

Sure, it's nurture, but it's also nature. Yet the government *(Let's Make Every Child A Mathematician-Scientist!)* system spends so much time trying to bolster weaknesses instead of playing to strengths, we end up wandering aimlessly in a field of mediocrity, searching for the gate. It bogs us down and it keeps him from enjoying the areas he's interested in and good at. I have to make sure he gets to explore more territory next year, not just constantly battle his way out of it.

The virtual school program we use, OHVA, gets this, I think. But like every program under state regulation, they have to play to the middle, and they, like my son—perhaps like most people—are stronger in the Humanities...

Everyone should be exposed to basic algebra, sure. And basic geometry. But Ohio students are required to pass Algebra II to graduate from high school. Because it is so difficult to pass, it is usually taken in the third year, so that it can be repeated if necessary. Yet four math credits are required, so a kid who is bad at math is very likely to be saddled with two complicated math classes his senior year.

Personally, I believe the senior year should be focused on advancing the student's individual strengths and interests. But I know colleges are frustrated with students whose math skills are not up to their standards. Well, I get that. Trying to turn everyone into a teen physicist doesn't really seem to be the answer, though.

I'm just really happy finals are next week. Baseball, swimming, bicycling, mowing the lawn, lying back and looking up at the sky on a hot July night; these things nurture a kid's character after weeks of desperately attempting to factor and divide quadratic polynomials.