How do you calculate the area of a circle?

I’ve been sitting here in complete and utter agony for over an hour now watching one of my charming boys do his math homework. It’s 12 questions. Just 12. Each shows the radius of a circle. He needs to find the area. No calculators.

I remembered how to do it. In fact, he knows how also. Simply multiply the radius by pi and square the result. No big deal. Except that when you write it out, it takes time. And patience. And accuracy. Oh, and writing neatly enough that when you go to add the columns, you know what the numbers were.

He’s been at it for a long time now. I did one to see how long it would take me. I don’t do a lot of multiplication these days without a calculator or computer. It took me about 1.5 minutes. Multiply that by the 12 problems and that’s 18 minutes. Add a little slop time and let’s say it should be able to be done in 1/2 hour.

I’d be more annoyed with him for lolly-gagging on this. But, I remember.

I hated doing math homework. I’d moan and groan and stall. I’d think of everything else I could do first. And then I’d sit crying with my homework unfinished — crying because I was so tired by that point that I’d never get it done.

I did get through it. And so will the kid. I hated math in school. I never thought I was good at it. My brother would help me sometimes. He was extremely patient. But still, I’d cry in frustration. Not a pretty picture. You might wonder why he’d offer to help the next time. But he always did. Thanks for that bro.

I thought I was a failure at math and yet, I placed out of all my required math in college. Clearly, I didn’t suck that badly. Maybe it was a lack of confidence.

And now, much of my work involves numbers. I do statistical analyses and stuff like that (stuff is the technical term for it) on a regular basis. Funny.

So I’m sitting here listening to the kid moan and groan and I know what’s coming down the pike. I’m not looking forward to it.

But all this procrastination brings me to some self-reflecting….

I’m working on a presentation. I might have mentioned it? Right. The same one. I cleaned my office. I filed. I put it off as long as I could. But now, it’s almost finished! Yeah… WAIT A SECOND!

That’s not how you find the area of a circle. Not at all. Oh my! It’s been almost 2 hours and it’s all wrong. All wrong. How to tell him?

It’s the radius squared TIMES pi!

So he’s a little teary now. But I explained that this is much easier than the other way. (As if that’s a consolation at this point.)

He’s on the third problem. This is going fast. Now.

I supposed this will teach him not to ask me for help with his math homework.

(And here I was thinking I really didn’t suck at math.)


7 thoughts on “How do you calculate the area of a circle?

  1. The other night I watched Fox’s “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?” a new quiz show that matches adults to kids with categories ranging from First Grade Art to Fourth Grade Physical Science. Across the board, the adults have gotten the answers incorrect or have had to rely on their 5th grade peers. I don’t know if it’s simply a case of “use it or lose it” or loss of brain cells. I, for one, could not figure out the math problem you just did.

  2. I also hated math homework and really struggled when I got into more advanced math in my Junior and Senior years of high school. Had I been better in math, I might have eventually gotten a BS in Psychology rather than a BA — but I decided that tackling the two years of university-level language required was INFINITELY better than tackling the math required for the BS.

    But I’ve married a man who LOVES “maths” (they add the “s” here in the UK). So we counter-balance each other!


  3. Yup. Pi-r-squared. I’m surprised you didn’t get the all-too-frequently spoken (think: very frustrated tone of voice) “BUT THAT’S NOT HOW THE TEACHER SHOWED US IN CLASS!!!” I think it shows that your son has more faith in your word than mine has in my word. That may not be such a bad thing (for you, anyway; as for me… not so good). I’m dreading pre-calc next year. (What WAS that calculus stuff??)

  4. I copped out. Being so horrible in math, I married a math major and let him tutor the kids. Ask Kris to tell you the story of her semester with Dad teaching her, you’ll appreciate the fact that we finally did hire a tutor!

    Paula L.

  5. Hey, thanks for the comment. Ankle’s not too good but I’m hanging in there!!

    Math was my best subject in school but I couldn’t for the life of me remember how to calculate the area of a circle. How sad…I’m only 24! Actually..that’s just embarrassing and I can’t believe I just admitted it. lol.

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