Is 80% of what you learn in school useless?
80%? More like 90%!
17.2% (176)
17.2% (176)
Yeah, it is.
22.7% (232)
22.7% (232)
I donĀ“t know?
3.9% (40)
3.9% (40)
Not really. Maybe 10-30% is.
37.3% (382)
37.3% (382)
No,no,no! Not in the slightest!
10.1% (103)
10.1% (103)
I can haz pancakes?
6.9% (71)
6.9% (71)
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Poll: 80% of what you learn in school is useless?

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Eldan:
I would say no, but it depends on how you learn it.

Of course most people will never need to exactly know Shakespeare's plays later in their lives. But on the one hand, it serves to give you part of the cultural shared heritage of the western hemisphere, on the other hand, it's a handy tool to learn reading comprehension and text analysis, and those are skills everyone, I repeat, everyone, needs.

Yes, unless someone asks you that in a quiz, you don't need to know from when to when Hitler was in power. But just look how the second world war still influences world politics indirectly, and how big a thing it still is in the public conciousness over here in Europe. Every time a politician here in Switzerland mentions the army, someone else will use WWII as an argument. It gives you an understanding of the world today.

The same goes for pretty much every other subject. You don't need the specific knowledge, you need the general skills.

Edit: also what Odin above me said.

This is one of the best responses because it starts to look at school as more than just "job prep." School, in a word, is a socializing institution that manufactures "citizens." This is a pessimistic outlook. On the positive side, we, as students, can undermine the institution by questioning what we have learned. While not all teachers actually want their students to USE what they learn (as in how they live there lives), many do. So, when your teacher asks you to analyze a text, a math problem, a chem. equation, remember that the right answer is only half of it. It's the process that is really important.

Amethyst Wind:
Well the concepts taught in English are still valid but I doubt I'll ever get into another conversation about Of Mice and Men, Maths beyond basic arithmetic seems to be unneeded until I move up the job ladder, Biology and Chemistry never made it outside the Scientific/Medical fields, Physics is similar but swap Medical for Engineering, etc etc.

Basically the content of what you learn is damn near useless, but the logic patterns and thinking methods taught are what become relevant in later life.

It's not useless. English teaches creativity; math teaches logic; science teaches how the world works; history teaches where you've been and where you're going.

Even if you have a "bad" teacher, these will be accomplished.

It's up to each and everyone to decide what's necessary for themselves. For me, and what I aspire to be, it's almost completely worthless to me. Atleast at this point in my life.

But if you want to be 'just another sucker on the vine' (get the reference?), then go ahead learn everything you're told in school and don't, for one second, think for yourself what you really want, or need, to know. Just do as you're told. "The powers that be" are gonna love ya.

Accurate: You don't make use of a great many pieces of the information you learned in school.

Inaccuracies with the OP's claim:

1) "Information" doesn't account for 80% of what you learn in school. Skills, problem-solving strategies, study techniques, work ethic... these things are far from useful. And you probably learned a few of them in your math class, even if you're not using advanced math at your current job.

2) Just because you're not directly using it doesn't mean it is useless. A seatbelt is "useless" until you get into a crash, at which point it becomes incredibly useful. But also, some of the thought processes and logic you're using at your current job may have been developed during a class with unrelated subject matter.

3) People have a tendency to overemphasize the perceived "failings" of public schools, while underemphasizing the overall impact those schools had on them. Basically, it's the classic "self-serving bias"--take credit for all of the good things as though you just always had those skills, while blasting the school system for all the things you feel were mistakes.

awesomeClaw:
Well, what is your opinion on this claim? Please motivate and tell how we can change if you think it is!

Bocaj2000:

Amethyst Wind:
Well the concepts taught in English are still valid but I doubt I'll ever get into another conversation about Of Mice and Men, Maths beyond basic arithmetic seems to be unneeded until I move up the job ladder, Biology and Chemistry never made it outside the Scientific/Medical fields, Physics is similar but swap Medical for Engineering, etc etc.

Basically the content of what you learn is damn near useless, but the logic patterns and thinking methods taught are what become relevant in later life.

It's not useless. English teaches creativity; math teaches logic; science teaches how the world works; history teaches where you've been and where you're going.

Even if you have a "bad" teacher, these will be accomplished.

You know that's what I said right? The content (the individual facts) doesn't need to be remembered, the conceptual side of it is what is important.

It is a very rare person who is going to use a larger percentage of the things they used in school in every day adult life, but that makes sense. Schools don't know what we're going to be when we grow up, so we have to be prepared for anything.

But what we learn should at least be challenging and enriching, so that's useful. So yes, the stat is probably true, but only in a very literal sense.

I forget if you mentioned any restrictions about the definition of "what we learn in school," but in case you didn't: I'd say about 90% of what we learn in school is how to be a functioning person anyway, so no, I don't think it's useless.

A lot of school is about getting students to realize what they're good at, and what they are either bad at, or don't care about. For instance, I'm incredibly good at math/physics, but I just don't care about geography or history. I wouldn't say that geography and history classes are useless though, because lots of people might be terrible at math/science, and love history. Either way, we all learned something, if not about those subjects, about ourselves.

Though some classes are entirely useless not because of the subject, but because of the teacher doing it wrong, or MAKING it boring.

No, no, no! Not in the slightest!

Well, OK, actually a lot of it is, but the idea isn't for everything to be useful.

I've always felt that school contains such a variety of subjects so that you can try all these different things and choose which one is your cup of tea. Then, once you've chosen what you like, you focus on that particular subject/topic, and take further or specialized education - maybe even work experience - in that subject/topic, eventually getting a job doing it.

And then there you are, doing what you enjoy for a living.

That's the best case scenario, at least.

50% of what I learned in high school was useless. I'm in engineering now, so all the maths and sciences were useful to me. But really, I've known how to read and write well for several years now, did I need to take English every single year? And religion class...I couldn't think of a better way to waste my time. Thanks Catholic school.

While we may not use a lot of the stuff we learn I wouldn't say it's useless because it helps round you out as an individual. Yes I could've done without all that sin cos tan rubbish and quadratic equations, but for the most part a little of everything is a good approach. Though frankly I think they should let you do what you want in PE. Some people are just not geared at all to play sports like rugby and making them do so is frankly bullying in its own way. I'm not saying no exercise, but some people (like me) would much prefer tennis/ badminton which can be equally good for exercise. I mean I weigh 8 stone. How the **** am I supposed to even compete in a rugby game. Not to mention everyone else has a go at you if you underperform. It's just an unfair system.

Sorry for the rant, I was just traumatised by PE =P

throughout your young life you learn maybe 85% - 90% of what you know in school, it is very important, and everything you learn is useful.

Maths, definately. I don't know how I will manage to shoop 'x=23y' into my job.

But its not all useless. About....40% is more accurate.

For some, certainly but it really depends on what you decide to do post school. And the parts you found useless are importent for somebody else in their profession.

My chemisty teacher said to us that what we actually learn isn't as importent as the skills we aquire during our years at school, like problem solving and logic.

If all that information was useless, how would we be able to formulate poorly thought out arguments on the internet while still claiming it has a basis of fact?

Most of the stuff no longer applies because - assuming you've gone as far as you can go - you'll end up specialising in one thing.

The point is to give you choice and variety, then you cut down, then you cut down some more, until eventually you're left with one or two things that can be applied to your job.

And just because things aren't directly called-up ever again doesn't mean their useless.

Most of the stuff I learned at school (from the school) between years 3-9 was more or less a waste of time. I either already knew it, didn't need to know it or I would have learned it from outside of school. 80% is a bit high I think, more like 55-60%.

I chose the 90% option because there was no 100%.

But I was a history major, so I'm biased.

Odin_kru:
School is to give everyone a base. By having a good selection of all topics, it allows you to make an informed decision later in your life. Wouldn't it be horrible if your carrier path was chosen for you when you were in kindergarten, and you never had any other teaching except in that field.

Also School is to teach us how to learn. One can use the basic fundamentals of learning, to teach themeless, or at least know were to find the resources needed to find more information.

I like this answer. I was going to zoom down to the comment box and be like "rahhh, all useless!", but I think it does serve some purpose. Perhaps not an entirely focused purpose, but more of a behind the scenes type which you mention, like time management and things of that sort. University is awesome though with the exception of forced electives.

Schooling is not about education, it's about indoctrination. Most of the factual knowledge I've accrued was the result of my own personal interest and not had anything to do with teachers filling my head with lies and revisionist history.

Yeah, the most important things we learn in school is the stuff that isn't directly taught. We learn how to learn, how to act in a structured environment, how to meet deadlines, how to work with others, how to feign attention, how to make up excuses, shift blame, avoid authority figures, survive day-in day-out in a hierarchy where our opinion means nothing... These are the skills we'll use in our future careers and jobs--these are the things that are most important to pick up in any level of education.

a lot of what i learnt in school, and i mean A LOT, has been incredibly useful for the following things

1). pub quizzes
2). college
3). trumping other friends lesser knowledge
and 4). important day to day stuff like proper grammar and basic foreign languages

What you really Learn at school is how to learn. The content isn't that helpful in normal life.

Most of the things you learn will help you at some point, whether it be college or one's chosen profession. Though I don't think that I'll ever need to know how to draw a spaceship in AutoCAD 2008 ever again, but that class was fun.

I think it really depends on the career that you take up.

Odin_kru:
School is to give everyone a base. By having a good selection of all topics, it allows you to make an informed decision later in your life. Wouldn't it be horrible if your carrier path was chosen for you when you were in kindergarten, and you never had any other teaching except in that field.

Are you sure? I think i'm at the stage where I wouldn't mind that. All this choice is fucking aggravating.

awesomeClaw:
Well, what is your opinion on this claim? Please motivate and tell how we can change if you think it is!

Common misconception. A standard school ciricullem(sp?) is made to give you a wide range in the hopes that you encounter as much of the suject matter in the real world as possible. I remember my management teacher looking through his workbook saying (I quote) "What the fuck is this shit? You'll never run into this bullshit in real life. Forget this garbage!"

it's not that 80% of everything you learn is useless, but your career path will simply AVOID 80% of what you learn. If I work all day with numbers as an accountant, I'll never need to know how to write english compositions, I don't need science, or french literature, or gym courses, or history. I'll be putting math to use primarily.

People see "Idon't use this on a regular basis" as useless. It's useful, simply not in the context of your job

Useless or not is not the issue. I'd hate to be given an entirely functional education, preparing me for a productive life in the lumpenproletariat.

If I get stuck on a desert island and desparately need to know the interior angles of a circle, I'll give them the credit.

I've forgotten 50% of the knowledge I've learned in school and probably the remaining 30% the other knowledge I learned and remembered, I can't find a use for yet so I agree with you.

Bocaj2000:
Why do people insist that the public school system is broken? I see no problem with it.

Seriously? I mean, the US is way behind most other developed nations when it comes to test scores, but it doesn't take a meta-analysis of aggregate scores to walk in to a high school history course and see the disinterested, glib stare on the face of those kids who are even willing to look at the professor. Look at the sentiment expressed in just this thread. According to the poll (at the moment), about as many people think almost all information learned in class is completely useless as think only some is. And I don't know about your school (Ga, where I went to high school, has near the worst school system in the country), but I watched teachers "teach" by basically giving their students a cheat sheet (cleverly disguised as a "study guide") and kicking back while they copy the answers onto the test. Those same students immediately forget everything they were just "taught." Sometimes they won't even test the students; instead they base 75% of their grade on so-called "effort grades," irrelevant material(I once got graded on a coloring book page in History, no shit), even GD attendance! And if you just can't keep your head up long enough to write your name on the paper, there's still extra credit -- several times it was given for contributing to a fund-raiser. That's right, people literally bought extra points on their final grade.

This type of shit deemphasizes the actual course content and promotes an attitude of apathy and even antagonism towards knowledge itself. Our schools are teaching kids to hate learning, and to value arbitrary "points" that stack up on report cards and GPAs and resumes -- that's pretty fucking broken. And that's not even the half of it.

Learning and knowledge is never useless, some of the things you learn in school can be boring or not directly relevant to your future/career, but never useless!

I would say 30-40% is. School teaches you a lot. Skills such as Maths and English (or any language) are very important.

Then you have topics such as Geography which are also vital for understanding the world, nature and directions etc. Science still plays a role even if you don't take up a profession or job that requires it.

Its good to have a basic understanding of how the body works, how basic principles of physics work other useful things such as which materials conduct electricity so you don't get a shock lol. Also which materials insulate heat etc, Acids and Alkalizes are also useful.

Religious education gives you a better understand of different cultures and can enable you to interact with different people more easily.

Most subjects can play a useful role and enhance you as a person. Not every subject will be useful to you and thats why at GCSE and A level (in England) you select the subjects that will suit you.

When you get to University it gets very interesting as you choose what most interests you. Remember knowledge is power.

imo, school is about teaching you how to teach your self, and less about teaching you stuff.

most people will never need education past 8th grade to function in life.

Nothing about school is 'useless'.

That's an idiotic concept. What you're taught in school may inspire, no matter how small, a number of students into studying to work in a particular field in their adult life.

I would argue that school, all of it, is essential to the development of the modern adult. In shcool you not only learn and develop skills within a variety of scholarly/artistic fields, but how to effectively deal with others on the playground.

You learn the thrill of competition with your peers.

It's also probably going to be the site in which you regularly meet your friends and may make contacts that may serve you well in life.

It's the place you're the most likely to find sexual partners (at a young age anyways), and learn to deal with romantic entanglements to prepare you for a life thereafter where you have to balance success and civil duties with the wish for greater physical and emotional intimacy.

Nothing you learn in school is 'useless' to people ... it's only that a very small amount of stuff in school is just useless to YOU.

- Math is important.
- English is important for good communication skills.
- I have a grasp of German because of what i learned at school.
- Geography is important for learning how to read and use maps.
- History is important because it teaches good sourcing skills. It teaches you what is and isn't useful and reliable as a source to back up your points. It teaches you good argumentative and persuasive skills.
- Physics is arguably important because it can help you to understand how stuff works in the real world. I at least have an idea what a 'watt' and 'voltage' is and how force is affected by weight and gravity and how a circuit is made up.
- Biology is arguably useful for better understanding the human body. Plant ecology can lead on to environmental science.
- Physical Education helps you to get that exercise you would otherwise do without out of laziness or any other form of excuse.
- Chemistry is somewhat useful because it teaches you how, for example, heat can transfer to various chemicals and the effect it can have. While not very useful in day to day life, i have been told that "cooking is like chemistry" and it's true. Just watch Heston Blumenthal.
- Art can inspire creativity and engages the right hemisphere of the brain.

I consider most of my school life to have given me various useful life skills and information that i consider valuable. The sciences are a bit too specialised to be of any practical use in day to day life however, the same with history. I would still argue most of the stuff you learn at school is important.

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