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Post No.: 0002useless


Furrywisepuppy says:


If you are an adult today and you believe you had learnt a lot of useless stuff when you were at school (e.g. algebra or plate tectonics) then this is actually a sign that you had a privileged education and had and have relatively many opportunities open to you (it’s arguably an example of a ‘first-world problem’) – you were taught lots of different things so that your career options were as wide as possible.


Many children don’t know what they want to do when older but even for those adults who did when they were young, their careers likely didn’t pan out as hoped or minds simply changed. Kids often say they know for sure what they want to do when older, and really believe what they say at the time they say it, but they underestimate their capriciousness or are simply not aware of the full spectrum of other career choices yet so don’t know what other paths are possible (or are more probabilistic/realistic). So even if you ended up not directly using something you’d learnt when at school, you didn’t know for sure that’d be the case when younger; plus if you didn’t get pushed to persist at something you didn’t enjoy or understand then you’d never have known whether you could’ve been good at it. The greater regret would’ve been not having had the opportunity to learn what you could only later confirm you didn’t need or want to personally know.


Okay, there are opportunity costs (i.e. you could’ve spent that time learning something else you enjoyed or wanted to know more) but core subjects like maths and basic introductions to all major subjects are useful for a wide variety of careers, hobbies and interests (and once again you’d only be able to confirm that you didn’t need to know them when older i.e. with the advantage of hindsight, and not at the time) – but this is why non-core, intermediate or advanced level subjects/classes are optional once you reach a certain stage in your country’s educational curriculum (and children or anyone at any age can usually do extra-curricular studies in their own spare time if desired and supported). Woof.


So learning about as wide a variety of subjects as possible allowed you to keep as many different doors open for you in your future life as possible – this will inevitably mean many things you had learnt at school never (directly) mattered again in your own personal life or eventual career, but that’s better than only being taught a few things or only the things you wanted to learn when young, and then when older finding out that your career (and general life) choices became quite limited because of this. In this context at least, it’s better to learn too much than too little.


And for those lucky enough to bemoan learning a lot of ‘pointless stuff’ at school, you must be aware that many children across the world even today don’t receive as good an education as you had received when you were younger – and they virtually all would love the education and therefore opportunities you had received or receive rather than have their long-term future life options severely limited almost from birth because they have exposure to learn only a few things they need for their immediate survival and interests, and nothing much more.


Plus you should be glad that other people discovered interests in the things you didn’t because they helped create and help create the technologies and discoveries you now or will love, find awe in and rely on without giving much of a second thought (e.g. if you use any computer that is connected to the internet then without understanding the value of prime numbers, the encryption and the security of your private digital data would be severely weaker).


So now you can flip your fuzzy perspective from ‘my time was wasted when younger’ to ‘wow, I was very fortunate to have went to the school I did and learn all the things I did!’ Furrywisepuppy loves to learn and is a life-long learner, and hopes you love learning too.


I’m interested to hear from you some of the ‘useless or pointless stuff’ you think you had learnt at school via the Twitter comment button below?




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