Thinking quickly

I’m going to ask you a question about pizza, but I’m going to trust that you won’t look below until you agree not to do any calculations. By calculations, I mean on paper, in your head, or on a machine.

So don’t break our circle of trust.

Seriously, just move on if you’re tempted to cheat.

Ok, got the stragglers out of here. Without calculating, answer the following question

The largest pizza at East Side Pies has is fairly big. It’s 18 inches across. What is the area of the pizza?

a. About 254 sq inches
b. About 1017 sq inches
c. About 56.5 sq inches
d. About 740 sq inches

I…. couldn’t resist doing the mental estimation. It didn’t come to me naturally.

Now the rest is of this post is obviously speculation. I imagine that the rate of correct responses is somewhere in the 25-33% range, that is you might be able to rule out one of these questions pretty quickly. However, I don’t think there would be much difference if you asked a 4th grader or a high school junior.

If I have no real intuition about many, many little squares of pizzas, what does that say about my ability to “do” mathematics? To me, it shows how being able to calculate an area of some generic shape is a lower level of skill. If we made a Bloom’s taxonomy for math classes, I think calculation should be like level 2.