Buzzfeed just posted an article called “49 Things You Learned In School That Are Now Completely Useless.” I know it’s supposed to be funny, but to me this article is ignorant and vile. The mindset it exhibits is a huge part of what is wrong with the way Americans think about education, and I have to speak out.
NOTHING that you learned in school is “useless”.
The most important thing about education—especially elementary-level education—is learning basic principles that you can build on and extend later in life. It’s learning how to think and how to learn.
Learning how to climb rope isn’t about learning how to climb rope, it’s about learning to be comfortable with and confident in the power of your body.
Learning how to drop an egg without breaking it was never about learning about how to drop an egg, it was about learning basic principles of structure, force, and mechanics.
Learning the periodic table of elements was never about memorizing every single element, it’s about understanding the relationships and patterns and symmetry that govern the basic building blocks of the universe.
Learning how to make an erupting volcano isn’t about learning how to make a model volcano, it’s about learning the way that basic chemical reactions can produce surprising results.
Learning how to play foursquare isn’t about learning how to play foursquare, it’s about learning coordination and multitasking.
Learning how to navigate the Encyclopaedia Brittanica isn’t about Encyclopaedia Brittanica, it’s about learning how to do research and track down information from complicated sources and records.
I could go on and on. The point is that elementary school projects are EXERCISES. You might as well say that it’s “useless” to lift weights because lifting up a dumbbell and putting it down again isn’t helpful in “real life.” The point of lifting weights is that you’re learning how to use your body, and the point of education is that you’re learning how to use your mind, your body, and your social skills.
Nothing you learned in school was useless.
And anyone who says otherwise is wrong, and should apologize for spreading lies.