Ever think about useless information in school?

September 24, 2018 at 11:41 PM
My mind wanders while walking the dog. Today it wandered to all the time spent "learning" useless information in school that was needed only for the test and how much more effective school could be if it focused only on the important rather than trivial pursuit.


Just as an example, thinking back to my history teacher, he was a wonderful teacher. Really created an interest in history. Yet at least half the curriculum and most of our brain power as students was used to memorize useless trivia. Take for example, having to memorize the names of the counties or the eight lords proprietors. What does that really matter vs understanding how government works, and why it was designed that way. "Why?" is an important part of history, yet so little time was spent on it vs names and dates.

Saw similar things across so many of my classes -- a focus on the "easy to test" memorization of trivial facts with little emphasis on causes and effects. Even most of our science classes were about memorization, not understanding.

Makes you wonder how much better it would be if we put emphasis on "why" and "how" rather than "what year was so and so born?"


September 26, 2018 at 11:45 PM
The problem is defining "useless". Counties in a state can be important (Maryland has 23 plus Baltimore City) when discussing state issues.


Knowing that DC is not part of MD, or VA, is something an amazing number of people don't know.

I have never once since I took it in high school needed Chemistry, Bio and Physics is a different set of circumstances.

Education in the US is broad based, a little bit if everything is thrown in to cover all the bases. What's "useless" for you may be an absolute necessity for someone else.


September 26, 2018 at 11:50 PM
As long as you are competent in the basics I think the more knowledge you can acquire the more enriched your life will be.


I remember not being good at working with fractions and arguing with my math teacher they will never matter to me anyway because I planned to major in English in college. All these years later every time I alter a baking recipe or sew a garment I'm so happy that I know how to deal with fractions.

And when I'm traveling I'm happy to have the knowledge I gained from a geography class that I thought was fluff at the time. When I look at a mesa I know what I'm looking at and how it got there. It increases my appreciation of my surroundings.

Are those extras in my life crucial? Probably not. Have they provided me with satisfaction? Most surely. How good of a judge was I at fifteen to know what kind of information would be beneficial?

That's not making a case for everyone. I have a large capacity to store "useless" information. Those who struggle or are better served by getting out into the work force could be given the basics and fast-tracked. There's always time for learning later in life.


September 28, 2018 at 1:51 AM
Yes. Nearly every high school graduate can tell you who invented the cotton gin.


But few can tell you the effect the cotton gin had on the US.


September 29, 2018 at 12:29 PM
That's because history has long been taught in a way that can be tested on a Scantron form, not in a way that inspires actual thought. The long-term trend towards testing being all (instead of just easy/lazy/mass) has only made this worse.



September 29, 2018 at 10:24 PM
It is not useless it is meant to be a connection to the actual stuff. There is tons of names to learn. The problem is choosing the right ones.



October 2, 2018 at 11:35 PM
There is simply too much history to teach it all in depth. If a teacher covers the whole US history book (from before Columbus to 9/11) things are going to get skimmed over... That's why the movement in history education has been towards skills and processes as opposed to memorization.



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October 13, 2018 at 10:29 PM
I actually had an excellent History teacher, and yes, it was taught, and I have enough interest in it to remember it.


I am only saying, if you ask a group of people who invented the Cotton Gin, they can all tell you. If you ask them what affect that had, you'll kind of get answers like . . . it made cleaning cotton simpler.

Try it, next time you're in a group of people discussing stuff.


October 19, 2018 at 10:28 PM
''Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.''



November 7, 2018 at 3:39 PM

No information is useless.