As promised, here’s my look at the reason Mike and Liz were fairly poor students for most of their academic careers. The Mike who grew to be the Noble Scribe was known in his youth to be a class clown who could do the work assigned him if he applied himself while Liz was a timid, indifferent sort who moaned that her coursework was hard, she had a tough time following it and that John and Elly should get off her back because her teachers were out to get her. The parental reaction to the poor showing of their children was, sadly, predictable: John fumed about how the younger generation lacked gumption while Elly wrung her hands and whined about how she didn’t understand why such bright children did so poorly. The answer that comes most readily to my mind is a mixture of Nature and Nurture. I may be off base but I think that their inability to concentrate on a subject and tendency towards boredom might actually have a genetic component to it. Even if I am wrong, the way they were raised explains their wretched study habits. To put it as kindly as possible, Elly is a poor advertisement for education; her lack of any real discipline, her impatience, her tendency to give up as soon as one little reverse appears and her begging the question when forced to confront her defeatist behavior are the only example the older Patterson children have to model themselves after when they confront schoolwork; John cannot be relied upon as he is not only distant and convinced that helping them will make them weak and dependent, he refuses to let his own education ‘corrupt’ him by modifying the narrow preconceptions he reveres. Experience, changing times, the disproof of his archaic beliefs by people who actually know what they’re talking about, they all mean nothing to him; what he believed as a teenager who couldn’t wait to get out of Aberdeen, Manitoba is what he’ll believe on his deathbed. Elly shares this mental rigidity and adds hapless ignorance to the mix; she cannot help the kids because she cannot follow their coursework. The reason April had better study habits was that she didn’t have cruddy study buddies like John and Elly barging in and wrecking her hopes of academic excellence; she was able to rely on a man with the brains to help her and the willingness to do so: Jim Richards.