As a student, you have probably questioned yourself and others several times, “Why should we have to learn content in school that we’ll NEVER use in the future?”. I don’t judge, because honestly, I’ve asked myself, my peers and parents the exact same question, and have always been unsatisfied with the answers because none of them truly made me agree with them. If I don’t like a certain subject, why should I be forced to learn it? If I'm certain I won’t use such content in the future, then why should I be forced to learn it?
I personally never thought this was the most fitting school system to be made, and judged it completely for it's worldwide use. This was until I heard an argument that finally made sense, convincing me why I should learn sciences, geography, history, languages, all arts and mathematics, even if they are completely unrelated to each other and to me.
Please read on to this and see if it makes sense to you too.
Initially, my arguments were as following:
Learning something I don’t enjoy does not motivate me to focus, work on it, nor participate in the subject
Consequently, if I don’t like it I won’t put as much effort as I’d put into something I liked, meaning my grades won’t be as high as they could and also won’t show my full potential
It’s a waste of time considering the amount of valuable, interesting things I could be learning in compensation and that would be much more applicable for me
Most of the things I learn today will be forgotten once I leave school
And in contrast, I’d simply hear:
You can’t satisfy everyone, if each one learned what they liked the school would have to propose several courses and have several teachers who were experts on the topic
Some people don’t know exactly what they want to pursue as a career and so they shouldn’t be asked to choose between subjects just yet, because this restricts them from exploring possible career options that they could enjoy
You may forget some things, but that’s always going to happen independent of the subject. Even the ones you enjoy learning will be forgotten to some extent. Now, the most important things from each subject will be remembered, therefore the basics will make sense to you.
Some people could 'cheat' the system, taking subjects that are essentially easier and not standardizing them between individuals. This not only withdrawals the entire purpose of being able to choose subjects, but also makes grading systems, reports and content in general unfair.
However, the best answer I got actually came from a 1-minute TikTok. Surprisingly, I left the video with a completely different mindset than the one I had before. This article does not have the purpose to convince you, but solely to make you consider the alternative perspective, disregarding all the simple, baseless arguments usually proposed such as the ones I mentioned above.
What the video stated was pretty simple.
It is extremely IGNORANT to say that some knowledge will not be useful to you. It’s true, you might not be using Pythagoras' Theorem in your diplomatic course, using supply and demand through your music career, or being required to know the function of each prokaryotic component in a cell while being a CEO. However, why is it so important to you to only focus on learning the basics, or only the most useful things to you?
The human brain should be willing to receive as much information as possible, since becoming more KNOWLEDGABLE can be one of the most desired qualities a human being could ever have. Being wise and smart, knowing how things work even if you aren't an expert in that area, and explaining the basics, allows you to go beyond the shallow surface and to go deeper into life and surroundings. It also differentiates you from the most part of the population, which is lazy enough to focus on knowing what is only expected of them. Always keep in mind that school teaches you the basics, even if Krebs Cycle in DP Biology doesn’t seem as simple as it is, and it could always go deeper. What a student in school learns is considered basic for biologists, afterall.
You’ll get the chance to learn the more complicated, important and relevant content once you reach college. After that, if you become curious about a topic that doesn’t relate to your course, you’ll have to do your own research and find your own answer. But school gives you the opportunity to learn about things you’d never think about, and wouldn’t be curious of, if they weren’t forcedly explained to you. We end up discovering completely new passions and curiosities once we are exposed to this knowledge. How did you figure you love economics or philosophy? Because you learned it in the first place, thanks to school.
There is also a conception that I notice often, which is that students are too focused on grades and on achieving their maximum potential just by exposing what they are good at. We do want to be recognized for our strengths, which is extremely fair, however that should not be your only objective. We are not in school to only score highly. We are also here to learn. Once you pass into college, the grade won't matter as much, and what will make you the best in class will be how much you contribute to class discussions and how much knowledge you own. Why always choose the easy way out? Yes, you'll probably struggle to understand chemistry or physics, because they are hard subjects, but it's much more about the process of learning than the test you subject yourself to score highly in. If you wake up, come to school and solely think about the grade you need to get to pass in a test, you won't achieve anything in life because this goal is too limited. Those who truly want to learn will score highly too, not only in the test paper but in life. Be an inquirer whenever you can, it'll open many new doors to you.
Furthermore and lastly, subjects do have benefits in themselves. Although you can find a subject extremely boring, you can’t deny that drama improves your public speaking, maths improves critical thinking or languages improves your vocabulary, which are real life situations you can always apply these subjects into and you'll always need.
And to think all this reflection came from a TikTok video… I just hope you were able to read through the article and understand the other side, the reason why we should learn all subjects and not just what we like, and if you did, congratulations because going through that one boring lesson will become much easier for you!