The Classes That We Were Forced to Take

Kids must be exposed to different subjects in order to know what they’re good at and interested in.
Again, agreed. Maybe kids can survey several science classes over the course of a year or two, and explore various options. They can be given a taste of a veritable potpourri of subjects throughout their education. But my son is not being exposed to chemistry, he’s spending a year of his life studying chemistry every day, which translates into a year of misery for him and our entire family, and paying for tutors who just get him through the course. It doesn’t take a chemist to know that my son is not going to be a chemist. He’s 15, not 7. It’s really that obvious. You took chemistry (I’m not talking to you scientist). What do you remember from that year? Nada, I bet. Next time a school official preens about the importance of chemistry, I’m going to ask him or her how many elements there are in the periodic table. Hint: you can find the answer on Google.

In The Washington Post, a father argues that mandating that high school students take specific courses in order to graduate doesn’t make a lot of sense if all they take away from the course is that they despise it, and don’t retain any of the information they’ve learned/were asked to memorize.

I don’t totally agree with the father, but I understand what he’s saying. Exposing students to a variety of disciplines is a good idea because it creates well-rounded people who can grasp fundamental concepts (I don’t make medicine, but at least I have a basic understanding of how medicine works, and what it does to my body), as well as introduce people to things they might not have discovered and liked on their own. The ability to grasp new concepts, and having the willingness to learn is critical in the workplace. You don’t go into a job knowing how to do everything perfectly.

That said, when I was in high school, the subject I couldn’t stand the most was arithmetic (the most common subject that’s disliked by writers). Of course, I had a tiger mom who expected me to excel in everything—especially science and math courses—so I bit the bullet and studied calculus during the summer of my junior year at a community college so that I wouldn’t have to take any math courses at my high school. I liked my other classes a lot more after I stopped worrying about doing math homework. And, although I don’t quite remember that calculus course I took in a lecture hall with 100 other students, I do remember passing the course with flying colors and being proud of that accomplishment.

(Thanks Jon, for sending along this story!)

Photo: sterlic

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