Saturday, March 14, 2015

Happy Pi Day

To all you math lovers out there, Happy π Day!

This calls for a celebration, an extra big celebration because this is a once in a century π day year. March 14, 2015, when scripted in full numbers, π style, reads 3.1415, to the first four places. Once upon a time I memorized further than that, but 3.14 served me well through my various math classes, so I eventually forgot all about the next two digits, much less the long string after.

Too bad it's on a Saturday when teachers can't exploit the day. Yesterday, unlucky Friday the 13th, was a teacher workday here in my county with no school for students, so they couldn't do a "Happy π minus one day." I'm guessing π minus two just didn't have the same effect.

Did the children at Pilot Mountain School celebrate π day? No. According to a news article in this morning's paper, π Day began in 1980, several years after the school closed. Besides, the teachers there were no nonsense, drill, drill, drill kind of teachers. That was the pedagogy of the times. Those children learned the good old way, by getting noses into books and practicing. Never mind those children who learned through a different approach. They were held back year after year, until they learned the way schools taught. Or until they dropped out.

Filling the classrooms with circles and pies and strings to measure around the circles three point one four times didn't happen.

Or did it?

From my interviews I found teachers at this school who were innovative, who went to great lengths to convey concepts. They taught in parables, applying what these farm children already knew to what they were learning.

I have no doubt one of the first jokes the children there learned was the same one I learned:

  • Pie are square. No they're not. Pie are round.

I also have no doubt one of the teachers came to school with string and pie pans and did a little π lesson. Maybe not on π Day. Maybe just on an ordinary, time to learn a lesson day. 

Teachers do that.

Oh, and tomorrow is March 15. English teachers beware.

Catch of the day,


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