From Polygon Song to Michael Jackson

Thoughts on “Polygon Song” by Peter Weatherall

I was looking for ways to help children remember the polygons’ names, and was struck by a performance of “Polygon Song”,  (with students in costume singing and acting the parts) at an assembly.   At first I thought this was an unexceptionable, really  good teaching song.

Then I considered the subtext:

“Nah. nah nah, nah, nah, just a boring Square.

I wish I was a pentagon, but I am just a square.
I wish I was a pentagon, but I am just a square.
My sides equal four, but if I had one more
I’d be a pentagon and not a square

Nah. nah nah, nah, nah, just a boring Square.”

So far, not bad.

The song continues, with desire to have more sides (triangles are not mentioned) and dissatisfaction with the main player’s squareness repeated.

So, where does it go – to the amazing properties of the tesseract?  To the practical designer choosing the square above the rest?

“(Play act  the square going behind a screen with a surgeon, and bits of paper tossed out)

Well now I am a decagon, and not a square.
Now I am a decagon, and very rare.
I won’t complain again ‘cos my sides equal ten,
I am a decagon, and not a square.

When I was just a square, I thought it wasn’t fair,
So I had surgery to my geometry ….
Now look at me!

Nah. nah nah, nah, nah, not a boring Square.”

The subtext I see is :  strong social acceptance of plastic surgery to change a standard but socially less valued appearance – with bust enhancement and nose reductions being normalised, the full Jackson option anyone?

I think I may still  use the song, but as a piece to introduce the idea of subtext to older students.

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