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Learning And Education In America

Yesterday, when my sixteen year old son came home from school, I asked him the ever annoying, and almost rhetorical question. “How was school today?”  After the obligatory, “fine.”  I thought maybe a follow up question would be a nice touch.  So I asked, “Well, what did you learn today , anything good?” After some thought  he said, “Today I learned how to calculate the volume in a cone.”  I couldn’t help myself, I had to respond with the following, “Ryan, no matter where you are or how many years have past. Promise me the day you ever use that knowledge in the real world, please call me. I’ll want to know.” He grunted his agreement and walked away.

Think about it, how many facts and formulas did you learn in school (at least temporarily till the test was over)  that you have never had any use for.  Now of course, if you happen to go into the Math or Science field yes it may have come in handy to know how to find the volume in a cone. Though, I still think it unlikely.  But to me this is just one more way our education system is broken.  If I had to do it all over again I would have liked, after obtaining a good working basic knowledge of Math and Science to concentrate more on writing and communication.  I always knew that was going to be where my chosen occupation would lie.  And yes, that’s just me but I think it works the other way as well, if your leaning more towards math and science, I don’t think one less social studies or lets face it, gym class is going to hurt you.

Don’t get me wrong , I’m all for well rounded individuals but a person’s strengths are their strengths.  Adrien Peterson is never going to have to recite the Declaration of Independence in order to make a gazillion dollars carrying a football in the N.F.L.  And Albert Einstein could barely dress himself in the morning, yet as I understand it, was a pretty good “Theory of Relatives” guy.  (yes, that was a joke.)

I think I would have appreciated more of the “elective” courses being mandatory like home economics, typing,  shop and driver’s ed.   I am positive that in all of those courses if someone asked me if I thought I would actually need that knowledge I would say YES!  I’m sure that I will need to know how to cook, change the oil in my car and type on a computer at least a few more times than I will need to calculate the volume in a cone.

I don’t have all the answers, in fact I’m pretty sure I don’t really have any.  But I know when I see something that could be better. And to me, in this and so many other ways, one of those things is our education system.  And by the way  thanks to a quick  “Google” search, I can also tell you (if by chance you really did need to know),  to calculate the volume in a cone it’s simply V = (Pi)(h)(r)(r)/3.   Have fun with that.

I’ll leave you with this question and I look forward to your input. What did you learn in school that you have never used and probably never will.  And what do you wish you had been taught that you weren’t?

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