As I was preparing to drop off my son to the final math exam for his current semester in Grade 10, I told him that if he got 100% on the exam I would pay for internet hook-up to Xbox 360 Live, something he has been pestering me about for weeks. I'm pretty sure he could get 100% on the exam if he exerted himself a bit. He already has a 90% average in math, and I think if he paid a bit more attention and wasn't careless in his calculations he could get 100% or very close to it.
His position is: what's wrong with 90%? Nothing is wrong with 90%, of course. But if he is already so close to the ultimate, wouldn't it make sense to push a bit harder?
I don't know. I don't want to make his life miserable. I can't say I was all that good at math myself (that means I was the worst math student, ever) so I can't hold myself up as a great example. My interest in math really started when I was in my thirties and started reading some of Isaac Asimov's books on math and sciences. The books were fascinating, and I then saw the error of my ways in not being more attentive in school and improving my performance in mathematics, physics and chemistry.
When I was in high school in the 1960's, math and science nerds were subject to considerable derision. Students who were heading for liberal arts degrees at university thought themselves superior and called the math and science students 'plumbers.' Of course, in the end, I'm sure that many of the fine arts students ended up working for those same 'plumbers,' who might have become engineers, inventors, or internet millionaires. I wonder who got the last laugh?
My son just got home from his exam and chatted with me via IM. Here's the conversation:
He: It went well.
Me: Just well, or realllllllllllllly well?
He: Really well.
I don't know what that means. Will it be another 90% or should I expect something a bit north of that?
I guess I'll just have to wait to find out.