What is Worth Learning?

By William Burgess ‘22                    

Another day, another lecture. We have all have that one kid in class that asked, “When are we gonna use this in life, or why do we need to know this?” The question is a good one. What is worth learning in high-school? How will this information help us in the long run?

In math we learn how to solve inequalities and graph equations, while in science we learn about the different eras of the earth. This is all well and good, but how do things like that help us prepare for life outside of high school?

In class the student is taught or told the information that they need to know, and then in some way shape or form, they are tested and or graded on the material. We as students are forced to memorize and study information for classes that won’t be either remembered or used after graduation, or at very least, after that test. You could sit a frog in a class for four years and teach it all the material on flying, but it will never use it.

Knowing this, wouldn’t make sense to equip our students with the knowledge they need to better their lives later on. According to Dr. Allen Mendler, professor at Harvard University, most things we learn won’t be big enough to impact us beyond high school, and it gets to the point where we forget the material altogether.  

 “Unless students are blessed with an exceptional memory, most of the stuff we teach won’t be remembered or used beyond the final exam. I no longer know any of the theorems I learned in 11th grade math, would be hard pressed to identify the elements in the periodic table, and struggle to recall the main theme of Charlotte’s Web. Arguably, these are merely once-known facts that have been dulled by an aging memory,” Mendler explained.

Instead of bombarding our students with novels and theorem we should be teaching them how to deal with taxes or other forms of payments, since this is a big issue here in America. According to Student Debt Relief, the altogether total household debt in America was around 13 trillion in September 2017.

One way or another bills and taxes are going to affect the students coming out of high school. For those planning to go to college, according to Forbes.com, “There are more than 44 million borrowers who collectively owe $1.5 trillion in student loan debt in the U.S. alone.”

For that reason, instructing them on financial issues in high school will prove beneficial later on.

High school students should also be taught how to deal with people socially and emphasize working as a team. Most students are going to go out into the world and get a career.

Potential.com states, “In today’s knowledge economy, most of our jobs involve interacting with others that are not even in the same line of profession. The need for effective teamwork is critical for any business.”

Common sense will tell you the same thing. When you walk into a McDonald’s you don’t see everyone off doing their own thing or just doing nothing at all. Usually, everyone is contributing in some way to take the orders, make the food, and get the food to the customer. Not everyone is going to work at McDonald’s, but the same logic applies to many other professions. TV studios don’t work with one person running them, surgeons cannot perform to the same degree alone, and skyscrapers won’t get built without collaboration. Given the chance to be educated on how real people work in the world is something that should be introduced into the curriculum.

Some feel all things we learn through school is beneficial in some way—that we can use all the thing we learned in high school to somehow set us up to automatically succeed in life. The pressures of society tell us at a young age, do good in school and then life will be a lot easier. Getting straight As will do you some good, but getting an A in history alone won’t get you a job in the music department. Young people usually struggle the first few years out in the real world due to the lack of preparation for it.  

“An overwhelming number of students, 87 percent, want to eventually earn a college degree and land a career. But many believe that their schools aren’t helping them develop the skills they’ll need to succeed after graduation,” according to Edsource.

There needs to be a change in how school are preparing their students for the real world.

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