So maybe your math teacher had a point


Remember how your math teacher insisted you’d use what he or she was attempting to drill into your head? I do. I have, surprisingly, used far more than I expected. Granted, I haven’t taken the derivative or integral of anything since college. We’ve referred to them in grad school, but only so far as mentioning where fancy formulas came from and that we should at least know WHAT one is, but thankfully are not required to do the time intensive math. Computers do that. I also give thanks that no one has asked me to convert radians to degrees or asked if I knew the cos (2pi). I can bake some mouth watering pies, but they involve nuts or fruit. Trig has been allotted to a rarely accessed slot of of memory cells which may involve a hematoma if I attempt to force them into activity.

Of course, there’s fractions in baking and percents in figuring sales tax and tips, and basic arithmetic in calculating how much money your bills haven’t devoured. As the mother of Mr. Smarty Pants I get the thrill of pop quizzes, which keeps those arithmetic neurons firing. If I’m bored, I could calculate the probability that one of the cats will be in the hall and ask for food when I pass by. With five cats, the odds are pretty dang high.

Geometry made a rather surprising appearance recently. Of course, we all know the power of the red octagon. We learn a few more very important shapes in drivers’ ed, but the octagon definitely has the most power to invoke sirens and flashing lights if ignored. The other day unseasonably warm weather, combined with a storm front, resulted in tornado warnings in our area. This is not a normal occurrence for January, but this winter has had exceedingly strange weather patterns.

Mr. Forceaster points to the red shape on the map, indicating the region under the warning. “Respect the polygon. If you are in the area covered by the polygon, please take shelter.”

My lights promptly went out. Okay, I’m totally respecting the polygon.

Then, yesterday, Simon used some pocket change to acquire baked lays chips. They don’t come in the normal potato shape, but are cut into interesting polygonal shapes. His sisters wanted to share and instead of merely handing a few left and right, he decided to turn it into another pop quiz opportunity.

“What shape is this?”

“Trapezoid!” Miss Diva gets a chip.

“Quadralateral!”

“What kind?” Simon prompts.

“Rectangle!” Miss Drama screeches. She gets a chip.

If they missed, he got it.

If it weren’t for his utter boredom in math class, I would suspect he’s a future math teacher in disguise.

 

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