My Mother's Rules

I have long maintained that no one needs to know Pythagorean Theorem. I was *that* kid, in the back of the class, who put up her hand, and lazily asked the teacher not why we needed to learn this crap, but asked exactly when he had used it in his own life. Generally speaking, it makes sense to memorize things you are going to use. Thus, I will always remember things like 2.2 KM to a Mile and the books of the bible in order. I will allow a certain amount of slippage, things that you needed to know once, but now don't, and probably make you a more rounded person anyway- the date of publication of the Durham Report, and the names of all the monarch's of England, in order.

And then there's the really dumb stuff, like Pythagorean theorem. Sure, it's a nifty bit of math, and it's dead easy (unlike conics, which may be nifty, but is hell to actually calculate). But really? No one ever uses it, and there A squared + B squared = C squared is nothing but clutter. Keeping me from remembering to pick up my laundry off the floor and making your name slip my mind.

And I get it, I get it. We aren't teaching children to use Pythagorean theorem, we are totally teaching them to think another way. We are stretching their little brains, so that they grow up to be smart, articulate human beings, who can all get jobs, and pay their Canada Pension Plan Premiums, so that I can retire at 65. I get it. I get that learning is at least in part about learning how to think, instead of just facts.

But. . .

I got to thinking a while ago, about the lessons we learn as women. Most of the things, particularly those my mother taught me, were lessons taught "because women need to know this stuff." I know how to curtsy, how to seat people at a dinner party, what wine to serve with what, and how to make a centerpiece.

So, I was talking today about women's stuff. Actually, we were talking about women's humour and if it exsisted, and so forth. But, it made me think about the stuff my mother made me learn. And I have to confess, to you at least, if not my mother, that given the odds, I've seated more people at a dinner party, done more centrepieces, and yes I have curtsied. I still haven't used pythagorean theorum.