I would suspect that most of us growing up remember the old riddle of someone going to St. Ives:
I met a man with seven wives,
Each wife had seven sacks,
Each sack had seven cats,
Each cat had seven kits,
Kits, cats, sacks and wives,
How many were going to St. Ives?"
The answer, of course, is one (Spoiler alert!): the speaker. Apparently wherever everyone else was headed it was not to St. Ives (although to be fair, the riddle is somewhat vague about this - perhaps they were just taking the long route).
As a child, I bet most of us were both puzzled and then amazed by the answer and likely we immediately ran out and tried it on our family and friends. Our family, no doubt, humored us by guessing; our friends either had to guess or blurted out "That riddle? It is so childish. I knew it years ago" (children often being the nadir of tact). And so perhaps we learned where St. Ives was (there are two in England: one in Cornwall and one in Cambridgeshire), perhaps learned that people carried things to market, and maybe learned to do math in our head (I get 2801, as corrected from original answer by Eaton Rapids Joe: 1 man, 7 wives, 49 sacks, 343 cats, and 2401 kits).
But I wonder if we really missed the point of the riddle.
The crux of the riddle, of course, is in the first and last lines: I was going to St. Ives, how many were going to St. Ives. Everything else - the bulk of the riddle - is superfluous information not related to actually solving the problem. In fact, in confuses the issue: people get lost in adding up how many peoples/items/animals are there, without realizing the fact that (per the riddle) none of them are going to St. Ives, only the speaker of the riddle.
All that calculation and higher math and geography, wasted because it simply has no value to the actual answer that is needed.
I (and perhaps you) will laugh at this simple riddle as perhaps a happy memory. What struck me as I was out walking Poppy The Brave this morning is how little I actually learned from this.
I could make a strong argument that for many years, I learned precisely the wrong lesson: when asked a question, I often get wrapped up in the minutiae and the details, in things that while interesting have no bearing on the actual question to be resolved. Ask me how my garden is doing (not well, by the way this year - nasty cold snap) and I will get into the minutiae of the soil and water and amount of sunlight - all relevant to the potential for the garden, but you asked a different question: "How is your garden doing", not "What are the contributing factors that adding to the fact that your garden is not doing well?".
All of a sudden, the fact that I struggle with or have not resolved issues for many years - sometimes 40 or more - is not from a lack of trying or getting resources of thinking deeply on the subject, it is that I have not being solving for the right thing. "A = B+C" is the equation, but I am out looking for F, H, and Z because - well you know - I need to account for those kits, cats, sacks and wives.
I do not really need them to answer your question - oh, it is interesting and sometimes explains why the thing has turned out to be the way that it is (so for example, my garden would do better in Winter if I moved it 10 feet over), but that is the answer to a separate question: "Why is garden not doing well in Winter"?
In dealing with one of one our senior executives at work (the sort of person that one would say "They would be a great mentor" if they had the time to do it [except I know they do not]) they presented a very simple response to any question/request/puzzle: "The Ask, The Task, and The Timeline". I am pondering this a great deal (It is simple and I think as we all know here, I am a simple man) as a paradigm, but it points out exactly the problem I have noticed: If I do not understand the Ask correctly, of course everything else (The Task And The Timeline) will be completely wrong.
Or said another way, if I am not careful I will find myself traveling with man, wives, sacks, cats, and kits to an unknown destination - when really I wanted to go to St. Ives.