Days of Change

American As Apple Pi

March 14, 2015

The mathematical constant known as Pi is the circumference of a circle divided by its diameter. Arguably, the radius is more important for calculations, but the property is the same. The value of Pi cannot be expressed in anything other than a value with an unending series of digits. Many constants are like this, but Pi is the most fundamental. Almost everyone will need to know how much of something to put around or inside a circle.

It is amusing that Americans came up with the idea of Pi Day on 3.14, the first three digits of the value. This year, 3/14/15 even matches the first five digits. The main purpose of these events isn’t just to give math nerds something to do. It also attempts to make math fun as a way to encourage kids to learn math better, or more, or harder, or something.

This is another American idea. These kind of passive motivators aren’t really effective. Flunking kids who don’t study math is also effective. Then again, Common Core has ruined math. Showing some kind of ineffective effort could get you credit even if you are wrong. Teaching someone to be good with numbers is complicated and requires long training, unless you are naturally good.

This is the real issue. Aptitude is something no one cares about anymore. We have browbeating parents who force their kids to get good grades by working the system and cramming unwanted information into their heads. There are also the underachievers who don’t work up to their potential. I was one of those. My parents were concerned when I didn’t do well, but were satisfied with the B’s and occasional A’s I got in school. It took me a few colleges to find the one where I cared enough to study and gets more A’s than B’s.

Some people care more about pie than Pi and I think that’s the way it should be.


Posted in Uncategorized