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Prof says: "Nothing you learn in high school will matter in your future." Roger Schank dissects high-school curriculum like a frog in formaldehyde. 
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He got that right. The only thing that I have ever used was multiplication tables, and that was from grade school.
I agree on algebra, but only because I was naturally terrible at math. Despite that, I still know more math than most folks I've met.

Regarding everything else being useless, may i quote Robert A Heinlein: A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook... a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
He's, well ... right. Still, good communication skills are best learned early, and many of our youth are failing miserably there. Also, learning what the scientific method is, and how to have a more rational, science-based outlook on life is also helpful.

But from my own personal perspective, he's pretty close to correct. 90% or more of what I was taught in high-school I've never had occasion to recall.
+James Karaganis I agree, but I don't think you learn these in school as much as on your own by reading, and from your family. If your family or entourage don't have them, and you don't read and appreciate words, writing and spelling, you're probably out of luck.
Undoubtedly it's possible to go through life as an ignorant moron. There are cable TV channels devoted to that. 
You learn to learn, that's what school is for!
I lucked out in high school with some great teachers. My sociology teacher being the prime example. He provided real life examples for everything he talked about.
I also got to take a college prep course which was amazing.
+Randy Resnick Well, I do believe that school should provide a student the ability to read and write with reasonable facility. That should not be asking too much, given what we spend on education.

I had a girlfriend who was an English teacher (this was about twenty five years ago.) First year college English: these were kids who were fresh out of various high schools. Close to two thirds of them literally could not write in full sentences. That's absolutely ridiculous by any reasonable measure, regardless of how much extraneous crap schools stuff into our heads.

Her class ended up being a remedial English class, because most of those students had such poor reading and writing skills they couldn't even begin to function at a college level.

Truly, it boggled my mind that any school would have graduated those kids. That was just wrong. Of course, that just reinforces Professor Schank's point, doesn't it.
We have retreated from a well rounded education that was common 20 years ago. Now, young people are pressed to have their majors figured out by ninth grade.
But different courses more or less help some students develop their interests. We will be ignorant if we do not study. And deep study is no doubt of great use.

For ordinary people, studying sth. and studying sth. well do not make to much difference as we will not use them in our work and daily life.But for the rest people, who might be professional on certain fields, these boring courses provide  chances for further access. 

This conclusion is sort of arbitrary although it's true for most of us.
I have to agree with just about all of what was said in this article.  There's a huge difference between studying and actually doing something.  I especially agree with what this professor says about English.  Kids should be learning to write and speak well, not dissecting material that they're never going to use in the real world.
This guy is the man. The part about English class really hit home to me. I've always fail my English classes simply because everything they've made me write about I didn't care about in the least!!!

It's like making a sport writer cover Google I/O you because lost and confused very quickly and you just do everything to get out of there.

If only high school let you pick a focus so you won't waste sooo much "learning" such useless crap you just don't care about and don't matter in the area of study you want to take in college~  
The danger with articles like this are that we focus too quickly on what should and should not be taught, and pay almost no attention to the real hard work of education: making sure what is taught gets taught well.
I think tailoring an education to only fit a individuals immediate needs would be awful. The theories should be thought as well along with their practical application. Teach them how to balance a checkbook, but  also why interest exists. Most high school kids have no idea what "will apply to them" in their future. I remember being taught in biology  that highly-specialized organisms don't survive when their environment is disrupted. History has shown that a human life is subjected to an awful lot of disruption in its course.
I have to say that while 80% of high school was a waste, I did have two wonderful English teachers that focused more on creativity and exploration and less on exposition (one opened me up to Iris Murdoch. Of which I am still eternally grateful). So it seems that I had both sides of that spectrum as I also had a hideous sophomore year English teacher (failed my term paper and my rewrite). I had to petition to get into the AP level class and once there it was a whole different world.

But yes, most of High School can be blissfully forgotten.
+Sephiroth Egret Some subjects you should learn regardless of whether you find them interesting (or not) because they will be of tremendous value when it comes to the things you do find interesting. It helps to have someone who can help you better understand where to put the most effort for the most return later in life: schools are notoriously poor at that.

My father, for example, insisted that I take typing. I thought it was the stupidest thing he ever had me do.

Then I became a software engineer.
Funny, he directly contradicts himself twice. Never use the word "never" unless you understand what the word "never" means.
I'm sorry if I wasn't clear on how I felt about English class +James Karaganis . I was touching up on the part of the blog where he explained why making you write about thing you don't care about being an issue. English is a basic and important subject that we all need it's how most teacher teach it that's a problem. 

I don't like read boring stories then having to write about them. I'd normally find myself stuck and painfully just trying to fill the paper is nonsense. That doesn't help me become a better writer.

I love the idea of a teacher that would let pick what to write about then  teach you the tools to make your writing better,but sadly I've never had a teacher like that.   
Schank doesn't say, that in addition to what he calls worth learning, you can only learn (and will remember therefore) with fun and without others telling you to do so.
I disagree. But I think it depends on what you want to do with your life and what you DO do with your life. And I also think it depends, honestly, on the caliber of your teachers. Really good ones don't make you write essays in English class about literature you could care less about. Really good ones make the literature something you DO care about because they're able to make it relevant to you, and the essay becomes about communication and expression of what DOES matter to you, as discussed and argued through the metaphor of a shared point of reference. In this case, a piece of literature.

This applies, in my opinion, to all subjects. The initial premise here is the one worth discussing: "They are cogs in a system over which they have no control." NOT whether or not you have personally found algebra to be useful in your own particular life. The system needs an overhaul.
+James Karaganis Will you argue that without your father insisting you would never have learned typing? I say, as soon as you would have needed it because you felt a passion towards software engineering you would have learned it even faster and more focused.
+Oliver Wagner Not true. I was programming long before I learned how to type. The keyboard is laid out to be efficient for writing words, not code, so the work itself doesn't make THAT much difference in speed if you peck or have your fingers in the appropriate positions.
+Ada Wang Unfortunately, the thought that you must teach a class or 30 children something that is of no practical use to them to MAYBE inspire the one is a huge waste of resources.  Natural talent and intrest will find a way to express it's self and an educational system setup to identify those interests and then provide the knowledge to build skills in that area would be much more effective. The example of the Wright brothers was a on the money, and I would hazard a guess that if you looked at the innovators and builders of the last 100 years, none of them were taught much about their "subject" in high school.

The real shame is that for every Thomas Edison or Thomas Watson, there is an unknown somebody who might be equally brilliant but no one taught them that how to be an entrepreneur, no one taught the skills they needed to live a self directed life.   
The only thing that bums me out is that I don't see an answer here. It's easy to criticize, but people should have solutions. What SHOULD be taught in school? What does it mean to be educated? What do kids need to learn to be a successful citizen in our country? These aren't easy questions, and to crap on our current system without answering them is just as fruitless as the courses in high school receiving criticism. 
But how would you ever be able to play Jeopardy ?
Typing is pretty easy to teach yourself to do. Mainly just a matter of forcing yourself to use all your fingers and not look at them. I taught myself to type in high school while typing out various essays and reports for school.
Brilliant , well argued, and, it makes alot of sense.
+Bill Baxter In Germany high school needs six years to teach writing, reading and basic math. We know it takes only 100 hours to learn that under good conditions… 
I did non-exceptional work with Algebra in High School and Calculus too...but okay with Geometry and Trig... 20 years later I found myself at a Whiteboard before a collection of business associates showing them formulas I had developed to analyze our revenue.

It hit me...There I was...using Algebra.

Other highly useful things learned in High School that impacted later professional life... Formal Logic, Latin, Germany and most importantly learning how to do Research in physical libraries
You hit the nail on the head!  When I was in school, (and I hated it more then you will ever know), the only subjects that mattered to me was math, art and spelling.

The knowledge I have now, I have acquired over the years.

I home schooled my children and they learned what they wanted to learn and at their own pace.  Along the way and by teaching each other they understood all the things that they could actually prove to be true with what they used to dig as deep as they could to find it.

I said this when I was in 4th grade and I will state it again now!  Public schools are a waste of our time, resources, money and children's minds!
I sort of agree ... some of the stuff makes sense - but only once it's been twisted ^--^  and of course learning teaching needs to evolve from those classroom type education models. However - not being cynical here - school is an institution that has a few functions that are not "teaching learning" at all (Foucault did provide some insight).
It's not the subject matter, it's that there is a lack of purpose in what is being taught. K-12 education, but especially high school, doesn't teach students how to learn and apply knowledge which would make the subject matter meaningful. Instead schools teach students how to take tests. The emphasis seems to be on regurgitation education,
A little bit too broad of a brush here. Most of the curriculum, when I was in high school, was unadulterated propaganda, statist religion, and copious accumulation of masculine bovine manure. My two years of vocational agriculture was extremely helpful and useful. The stimulation and depth that my U.S. history teacher laid on us has provide me with a good starting base to explore governmental theory, philosophy, and world history and the applicable lessons to be learned so as to not contribute to the plethora of correct and future mistakes.

Yes my English classes were largely mythology and personal rantings by the teachers. Four years of math could have easily been taught in eight weeks. Science was as fraudulent as it could get, yet it served me to study logic on my own and research valid science on my own.
Parents are suppose to teach there kids. School is more like a boarding facility for children while the parents earn an income. I think the ability to read is key. And I hated school.....fools teaching fools
And if you attend college, chances are you will remember more of what you are taught there by a professor that knows "how" to learn you!  Where in public school you have a board that decides how children are taught but never learn as much as they can. 

There was only 1 teacher that still till this day that I can remember from attending school and she taught literature.  And even though I did not like being in that place, it was one of the few classes in my senior year that I actually could not wait to get to.
I much preferred college over public school. You actually learn stuff you want to learn in college, rather than being force fed.
+Wesley Sanders I think there were some pretty good suggestions as to what should be taught in he article. Teaching good communication and skills for living would be a great start.  

I had dinner at a nice restaurant with a couple of high school juniors yesterday, both of them good students, neither of them could read the menu, they could read the words, but had no idea what they meant.  It's a shame when you can't order a hamberger because no one has ever told you that ground Angus beef served on brioche is a hamburger.  These kids were both like deer in headlights when the waitress asked them what they wanted, it's fortunate that this was social event to a job interview.
I don't take curricular advice from people who think "slavery wasn't so bad."
Don't you just love those people who cannot even follow the subject at hand?
He's made too much of an assumption.  He mentioned you will never use algebra outside of the highschool course.  I actually used it at a company to solve a multi-variable technical problem we faced everyday, and landed that career based on my high-school drafting experience.  Later used my physics notes to work out some other problems.
I will admit I haven't used French, except when the grocery store items are shelved backwards.
Just thought I'd chime in with the applicability of algebra: try developing any computer software without it - it's impossible.

There is much that can be taught at school that would better prepare children for their lives as adults. In an attempt to provide solutions, I would posit the following as the bare minimum driving forces:

* how to learn (mind maps, storytelling as a memory aid etc)
* why culture is important (music, writing, art, dance, sculpture and all from different nations etc) and how to get immersed in it
* why science is important (physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, economics) and how they each build on each other
* how mathematics spans both art and science and demonstrates the need for deep knowledge of both
Well, I for one have never had to use algebra at all and never did actually learn the darn thing in school.  However, after teaching my children at home, I finally understood it.

Basically, children are being forced to learn what they are not ready for or want to learn at the ages some of this is being taught.  That is the point!  Why on earth teach a 3rd or 4th grade child something that their minds are not ready for?  Seems to me that if we would let children learn MORE of what they are interested in, they will learn all the rest when they feel they need to and NOT have it shoved down their throats just to make what a school board feel they should know now!
+Kyle Jensen Looking at it again, I think you're right.  But then it's just a bizarre claim. What high schools teach that slavery wasn't so bad?
I have learned more being a student of life than i did with that institutionalized crap they force feed you at high school. Elementary and middle school are were i learned must of my basic and well used fundamental subjects. The rest of learning has come through my own research, parental instruction, and real life problem solving (mechanical thinking). I do say though in certain fields depending on the persons career interest some high school subjects are necessary for more technical basics.
What teacher as you were going to school looked at you and asked you - What is it you want to learn about so you can be what it is you want to be?  What are you interested in learning about?  What do you want to learn about the most?
Biology taught me 'bout the birds and the bees
I'd say he's right in pointing at curricula. I've used a lot of what I learned in High School. Still, I notice that what I use most has more to do with how to think and less to do with content. (Scientific Method vs Atomic weight of Copper; historical analysis vs date of the Magna Carta signing). Too much curricula wastes time on content that either changes soon after or which can easily be looked up. You automatically memorize what you use. Anything else won't last much past the test. If students could see more of how they are being prepared for their eventual careers, they probably hate it less.
I agree that math and sciences as they are currently taught have little pragmatic value to the future of most students.  However I do believe the spirit of these subjects is important.  The process of observation, hypotheses, and experimentation in general is a shield against leading a credulous life.
I agree with the underlying theme that our system is fundamentally flawed. However, I feel that the net result of what was proposed would be a further loss of access to higher level learning to those who would want it.

Growing up I had to suffer over years of fractions and solving for x as the curriculum dragged itself down to the lowest common denominator. I could have managed applied calculus and physics by jr. high had the system allowed for students to move according to their own abilities.

The public school system was an indoctrination into a systemic tolerance of mediocrity and a celebration of ritual over substance. As I've moved into the business world, I've seen the results. Masses unwilling to break from "that's just how we do it" and the outright suppression of any concepts not well understood by "the majority". This stifles innovation and progress and is a direct product of our education system.

We need to tear down the system that is inherently designed to yield masses of DMV employees and rebuild to allow for the optimal development of the individual based on his own strengths and ability.
The Army is transitioning (or has transitioned) to Small Group Leader style instruction, they have learned that a people learn best in small groups.
Mike J.
I'll give the Prof credit for trying to start a tough conversation, but it's a little too simplified in places. If you take it at face value, he's saying almost all theory should get tossed out the window and replaced with "how to get by in life", which honestly could be taught just as poorly.
He's absolutely right I have been saying the same thing for slightly more then 10 years now, the entire education system on THE ENTIRE PLANET is a fraud, not just in the US.
The article has some merit.  The specific examples used in a lot of general education don't matter.  If you want to learn history you can study any era anywhere in the world and acquire the tools to study history.  If you want to learn to be a scientist you can study any science to learn the basic tools used to describe the physical world.  If you want to learn critical thinking you can study just about anything with a critical eye.

Much of the response posted here acknowledges not that the education is useless but that it uses examples that are useful to only a small subset of students.

What this points to is one of the major difficulties in designing introductory courses in a field that will be required for students entering the field and for students who are not going to be doing anything related to it at all.  Do you use the course to prepare the people entering the field to move forward in the field by using examples they will need to understand at the expense of having the examples be of no use to most of the class or do you design the course around teaching the majority of the class but leave those students truly interested in the field unprepared to pursue that field?

So why require everyone to take these courses that are of use to only a few of them?  Because almost no one knows what they want to do when they are in school.  Traditional students are almost always unsure what they want to do for the rest of their life and there is a fear that by tracking them away from the courses that prepare them to enter a field, barriers will be placed in their path should they later decide to enter it.

So why does everyone learn chemistry?  Because later on they might want to go into the sciences and then that introduction to how sciences do things will be useful to them.  Why learn history or political science?  You might end up doing something that uses it.

What most students really need in science education is a course in scientific literacy.  How does science impact your life?  How do you understand whether an advertisement or study is useful or complete crap?   How do you figure out what a good source of information looks like?

But students are usually driven away from these courses because the assumption is they don't know what they want to do and these courses will not prepare them to become professional scientists.  Since they'll be behind a year in their education if they don't take the course designed for science majors and then later decide to be a science major most schools hedge their bets and teach everyone the introduction to a pile of professions rather than just teaching them to enter one.
I totally agree 100% with this article. I sadly suck at math mainly because the stuff they teach us isn't going to help me one bit when It comes to owning my own businesses or living my life. Its just a pain because I feel like I've been wasting my time on stuff I'm not gonna need. I could be learning how to become a chef or start my own candy business not sit in class and learn about fractions and stuff. Biology I don't even care for I take honors biology and it is boring I was expecting it to be like learning about the human body or something like that but sadly nope and I don't care for physics or chemistry anyway. What really pisses me off is that they are all requirements like why would I learn something I'm not gonna use later on in life? I swear I feel like I'm a slave at school! Why can't I have a whole bunch of career classes? Sigh I wish things were different...
Jordan Ellenberg, I really didn't care for the article, but the author never said "slavery wasn't so bad." He was talking about the lies taught in history class (where they gloss over the bad stuff and try to give the students the impression that we are saints.) Read it again.
The only way we'er going to fix high school is:

1.  Move standardized tests into a supporting role instead of the be all and end all.

2.  Develop curriculum that is student driven and project based that results in allowing differentiated instruction and the production of real world artifacts for student portfolios.

3.  Embracing new technologies and making research based policies that allow students to use many of the same methods for learning in the classroom that they use outside of the classroom.

4,  Allow for the implementation of a modified/modernized apprentice system that has high school students doing internships and exploring the realities of various careers before they even attempt to enter our financially out of control university system.

5.  Stop viewing students as pieces of an assembly line that should all look the same upon completing high school.

6.  Stop attempting to teach each subject area with the same methods and instead develop delivery styles that are most effective for each particular topic.
I once taught high school math for a year (where I learned I don't have what it takes to be a high school teacher.) In my geometry class I had a young man who was convinced he didn't need to know any math because he was joining the family business to be an electrician. I went into a detailed example to show him how the rules he used to bend conduit were based on geometry and trigonometry, after which he replied he didn't care as he just needed to know the rules.

Somewhere in the last 50 years or so, our culture seems to have decided all we need out of an education are the basic skills to be good service workers and consumers. I saw a lot of kids with this attitude, the driving force for everything they did was to make and spend money. My own ideas that we should learn and think critically just for the sake of knowledge and thinking seem to make me part of a shrinking minority. Curiousity makes me hope I live long enough to see where this consumerist attitude takes us, pessimism makes he think I probably don't want to live through what will happen if we don't change course.
You are wrong! These kids learn to socialize, pay their bills, budget their income, learn who is the people that will manage their workplaces, learn who are the future criminals of the generation, high school is when you learn what type of person you want to be! And many other things pertinent to life's daily tasks!


My youngest daughter had conquered pre-calc in the first semester of her sophomore year in high school.  My astonishment was compounded by the fact that I stink at maths.  I always thought a postulate was something the doctor examined with a rubber glove.

While she was an AP student, the education system in place was not able to accommodate her accelerated abilities in physics nor mathematics.  She graduated high school in the top 3 percent of her class.  Fortunately, she was eventually recognized and placed in a pre-college environment and was allowed to move forward and is now an mechanical engineering student with a healthy interest in geophysics.

It was frustrating to both her and us as her parents to see talent bridled in this manner.  Hopefully, a system will develop here in the US that allows exceptional students to discover their abilities, unfettered by a clogged and apathetic educational structure.
I have a few problems with this article that my public school education will allow me raise.

First, I love that he contradicts himself by saying "What matters is learning how to write well" and later "Grammar is like physics formulas, nice in theory but useless in practice."  This is coupled with several grammatical errors in the article, and inconsistencies about how he uses punctuation at the end of parenthetical phrases.

"What should you be learning? Your personal finances."  I'm pretty sure there are classes on that in high school, at least around here.  "A high school student needs economic theory like he needs another leg."  A responsible citizen, however, would do well to have a little understanding of economic theory and how it relates to the world around us.

Foreign language - I'm pretty much on board with this one, although it should be mentioned that the best time to learn a second language is 3rd or 4th grade, not high school, as any cognitive scientist worth his NaCl would know.

Regarding STEM (math, biology, chemistry, physics): I think what needs to be acknowledged here is that people who work in the sciences have the greatest chance of enriching the greatest number of lives.  But if we're not teaching anything about how these people actually work (formulas, balancing equations, dissections) then how is a student supposed to find out that that's what they want to learn more about?  Mustn't we take some of the bad with the good?

What the article is missing is a clear explanation of how things should be taught, as opposed to a rant about how they shouldn't be taught.  I feel like if we follow what little advice is provided, then all we're going to produce is the level of mind suited to flipping burgers.
I don't know. I learned a lots of useless things in high school. On the other hand I learned a lot of useful/interesting things as well. And most of them has nothing to do with my profession, but rather things that come up at  one point or the other in life and I just "know" the answer because I remembered them from high school. 
A well written and, I believe, well intended article. 90% of which are points regulated by a Government body made up of Sociologists and Lawyers and not teachers. Get Government out of Education and teachers will teach. (Disclaimer: l taught for seven years and left for that very reason.)
+Chris Esser Your asking a institution that runs students like a mediocre puppy mill and is based on rewriting history, compartmentalizing, and institutionalizing the general public to suit the needs of the ( follow directions dont think for yourself ) big buisness quota to concentrate on common sense and/or problem solving skills. Thats hillarious. If that was the case they would remove the devices that have become a crutch instead of the well intended tools (ex.computers, cell phones, calculators, ) untill the students had shown a aptitude for problem solving and critical thinking. Teach a person to fish feed him for a lifetime, give them a fish feed them for a day. In my opinion if the students are handed a problem then asked to try and figure it out ( without the formula or solution provided ) and instructed that questioning to learn is well appreciated then you will have a more knowledgable, greater thinking capacity group. Of course you provide the solution and formula to properly solve it after the students are stumped.
Education needs to be restructured and its obvious to anyone with a grain of sense.
Growing up in my former homeland, Italy, I remember having to take a particular class called "civic education", where middle school students were taught different adult life skills such as how to write checks, compile a resume, fill up a tax declaration form, etc.

In my experience school's primary goal should be to prepare children to face life, which in turns translates in fewer people making early costly mistakes, like choosing the wrong school or "crowd".

This usually correlates to a better set of future choices, which leads to a higher ability to create wealth and a lesser chance to encumber the country with more debt fueled by excessive use of welfare and the court system.

Gang-related activity is, for one, a direct consequence of poor education, so that children who feel they have no options in life will revert to a primal state and become vulnerable and easily controlled.

People with poor or no education usually are the first to run into the worst trouble due to choices that could have been averted. These include falling prey of a system of high interest loans and credits a person with poor or no education fails to understand but still has access to.

Corporate debt industries favor this category as it makes the better part of their income with little effort and next to zero legal repercussion.

I can see this person's point of view, the system definitely needs to be revised. Is it going to happen soon? Probably not... But until it does I'm afraid we got to work with what we got.

Having been the child of educators, having two siblings who became teachers, and I also spent a few years as one, I sense the difference has become the need for students to pass mandated tests.  There is no room for learning, thought, or exploration from either the teacher or the students.  Memorize and pass tests is the only concern.  Education has become just another business and not a good one.

I have been tutoring a young man in math, well, algebra actually.  I needed to brush up on my own, so I did some research and found this website;
What a great tool for me and it has been fun to watch this student thrive at something he could not grasp before.  He is now using it on his own, and is learning so much faster and with comprehension. 

My point is, if a student cannot find the joy in learning any subject, even if it is not his main interest, and a teacher is not able to get through to their students, there are other ways to approach teaching and learning.

I love this mission statement from the Khan Academy, "All of the site's resources are available to anyone. It doesn't matter if you are a student, teacher, home-schooled, principal, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or a friendly alien just trying to get a leg up in earthly biology. The Khan Academy's materials and resources are available to you completely free of charge.  I teach the way that I wish I was taught."
there are always ways to improve things
just look at the idea behind the KHAN academy for one
but its also a big money issue as usual
(oh, and I sub in secondary grades almost every day for over 6 years, so i get to see the kids in the class, and some dont belong there at all)
Didn't read the comments, but this caught my eye. +Ken Starks "Hopefully, a system will develop here in the US that allows exceptional students to discover their abilities, unfettered by a clogged and apathetic educational structure."

Homeschooling. While it has it's issues, it is far superior to public school. You can teach your kids at the rate they learn, and in the way they learn. And there are enough homeschool groups out there that social interaction is not an issue. 

My parents homeschooled me all the way through highschool. I've always been grateful for that.
Kids and some adults bitch about school and try to discredit school education...I say they're soft and lazy

When I went to school you either studied or failed, example:

Who was George Washington's vice president? Answer here

Now it's like this:
Who was George Washington's vice president?

A-Justin Beiber
B-John Adams
C-Justin Timberlake
D-The old man who cuts your hair

We didn't have multiple choice.You knew it or you didn't.You applied yourself or you failed.

School is important.Learning is not supposed to be easy or practical.People want their children to cruise in school and graduate with honors.When it doesn't go that way for slacking, lazy kids, it must be the school system that's wrong.Give me a break...
i think if you believe in what you said then what other people say doesn't really matter.
Ken S
I use mathematics and English every day
This is to be taken with a bit of NaCl, yes?

I work in an analytics role with people making businesses decisions. Some of them have great heads for numbers and poor heads for math. And that's sometimes an issue.

I've found people will usually forget the top few layers of a topic. If you really want them to understand, you build a few layers up so that three weeks later, after they forget the details, they still remember the process. Or at least that there's something to remember.

Math isn't just facts. Science isn't just facts. They are processes and learning those are important. Especially if we want to stay competitive in science and engineering. Otherwise we'll vote in people hostile to the findings of science and all hope will be lost for us as a nation.

We need critical thinking skills. Some of the classes targeted are where you learn them.

Also, while being a CS professor lends some credence... logically it does not advance his point. Maybe he should have taken more Logic or Philosophy. Or he's trusting we haven't.
Like what you said, but man, would really help to convince others if you turned autocorrect off.
Amen. With the exception of Physics and maybe some applicable Chemistry, but not much.
I like the theme, but don't agree.  Critical thinking requires putting theoretical and practical ideas together and forming one's own unique viewpoint; also, experience at facing unanticipated challenges is great training for life.  We can argue about what challenges those should be in High School, but whether they be practical skills, social skills, or scientific skills development, kids need practice time.  It's impossible to get good at something, or even understand if you like/dislike a topic, if you don't immerse in it.  We should stay on track and make the tweaks that assure balanced, competent (esp. WRITING), and confident graduates to take on the world they will inherit.  Not an easy task, and so a challenging gauntlet in HS will only serve us all in the long run. 
Bull! There's always some speck of knowledge to be learned. All you need to do is pay attention.
The Government's influence on the education system has been rock solid.  We have only taught our kids how to add, not subtract.  Think about it.
Roger Shank doesn't believe you can learn anything out of context. He never has. Taken to the extreme, you get an article like the one he wrote. 

Fortunately no matter how clever Roger is (and he is very clever), people do learn out of context, and then these same people can apply what they learned in other situations. You can learn to add abstractly, and apply it at the grocery store. You can learn French grammar rules, and apply them in your spoken French. Fluent speech is very different from correct speech, and native French speakers will notice all the gramatical mistakes. So if you want to be mediocre at everything you do, you could follow Roger's advice. 
Dropped-out halfway through my sophmore year of highschool. Still graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in Criminal Justice. Highschool???
Don't get me wrong I do believe today's youth is spoiled and lazy but not all when it comes to school and studies. You have a lot of multiple choice questions I hear but I went to a private school so majority of the test was written not multiple choice and then you have to remember a couple of verses from the good book because that accounts for 20 points itself while everything else is 5-10 points

So here is a summary, you start with 100% then each answer you get wrong takes the appropriate amount of points off which is visible by question number
It is so confrontational. Would you get the dictionary by heart? That is Objective Reality! And to experience a flower you smell! And a courtesan who sleeps with many should have had daily "subjective experience";Since the ordinary human being who indulge in lust acts and Professors who know by heart their jobs jargon have" Brahma Gyana". In the final, there is neither objective reality nor the subjective experience. Both shall be extinguished in the fire of satchitananda in which the Yogi himself immolates..................And science removes these unscientific and unproven feelings. Quantum neurology concentrates only on minuteness of brain functioning and nothing else. One stands befuddled and the binary states and digital digamma!..........
+Matt Borkenhagen is right.  Sometimes high school is exactly the wrong time to learn for a particular person.  My grades stunk to the extent that I dropped out and joined the Army...of course, it was wartime then and they would take anyone with a pulse.  I went on to earn my diploma when I got out of the service and my grade point average was 3.5-ish.  So yeah, failure at that age doesn't necessarily indicate a failure in only means that a person will learn at a different pace and at a different time.
While taking Senior English, 1st semester, (1981) I was really fighting internally over the reasoning for learning Shakespeare.  To the extent that I sat down and wrote a one-page "Dear Abby" - style paper to my English teacher. In it, I basically said: "I'm sure that one day, I'm going to be in a job interview, and I'll have all of the qualifications for the job, except that I will be asked: 'OK, What did Hamlet say in Act III, Scene 1?'. . .

My English teacher addressed the entire class the next day, extolling the virtues of having a well-rounded life, and learning to enjoy, and to be able to talk about, many subject areas other than the field of interest that you are pursuing.  And I have to admit that she was right to a point. I did attend, and enjoy, some "Shakespeare in the Park", and found that I appreciated his comedies.  
Of course our public education system is flawed. It is planned, administrated and executed by a variety of individuals.  Not all of them care about the student or are intelligent and dedicated enough to recognize and fix a problem.  Many of the best teachers are fighting the momentum of the "system" and can only do so much.  And then there are the scandalous ones who are so personally messed up that they can't help themselves.  Yes, the school system is flawed by the humanity that creates and implements it.  The same humanity that one generally has to work with for the rest of their lives.  Those kids  who are home schooled can never appreciate or develop the skills required to navigate in the mainstream. Or at least the vast majority of them. There are no absolutes.  Show me a home schooler that is successful in life (as opposed to academics) and I'll show you the exception in the crowd.  Of course many of the mainstreamers fail too.
I have to disagree with a fair amount of this.  I continue to use math and physics on a regular basis, and I find that chemistry gives me better understanding of how to manage the pool. 

As for the foreign languages, I can't remember more than a few phrases, but having studied the grammars of both a Romance language and a Germanic language has given me a much better understanding of the English's many little quirks.

About the only thing I will agree with is that high school (and much of college) spends too much time teaching the theoretical/structural underpinnings and not enough on teaching practical application.  However, to conclude that the underpinnings should not be taught at all is a mistake.  Practical application will only teach you how to muddle through something, but I don't think you'll ever master it without learning what goes on underneath. 

Getting by is good enough for a lot of things, but it's not good enough for the things you're passionate about, and if you simply skip over most of them, you may never discover that passion.
I would agree that everything for everyone is absurd, but some folks truly love chemistry and physics so why deprive them of the learning. And would also agree with the math teachers. I am pretty certain that learning geometric proofs with defined input, outputs and rule sets, paved the way for my career in programming. Never planned to be a programmer, just tripped across it in my 20's and it seemed so natural and easy. So, thanks Ms. Riggs for teaching me geometry so that I could have a career that I actually enjoy.
Studying alone without social interaction makes half baked students
Thanks, commenters, my previous most plussed comment was 15! :-D
+Ken Sharp Eastern Philosophy.  You didn't learn any of that in your well rounded education.  Basically he is saying that it is better to learn about a flower by going out and smelling one than it is to merely read about it in a book or classroom.  Poorly communicated, albeit.
I have heard that the skills needed for lifelong learning are lacking. This doesn't seem to be an insurmountable problem.
I remember the quadratic formula and I remember most trig and calculus formulas also...I don't know why either... 
Let me add, High School "teaches" many what they know of "social interaction." Hopefully, no person here still limits themselves to those rules.

The problem with generalities is, well, they are generalities that don't apply in every case…
I think you have a general idea of what is important to learn which I agree with but there is know such thing as learning too much.
I am pro-teacher, pro-education, and very anti=our current very broken educational system.  I'm not at all surprised at the outrage this person received from his article from teachers - their job security is directly threatened by this kind of thinking.  I don't believe that was his point, but it happens anytime you changes the way things have 'always been done'.

I strongly feel that our education system should be looked at and completely restructured.from top to bottom, starting with the assumptions it is based on, and rebuilt with the idea of flexibility of practical curriculum at its core.  I believe the curriculum should be redesigned annually (look at the pace of change of technology and our society), perhaps not making huge changes or any at all, but being willing to at any point a course no longer makes sense.  We need to design our schools to create people ready to enter the workforce and contribute, and the education should include things like how to handle personal finances, how the real world works, how to navigate the adult world, and how to find out anything the student wants to know when Google fails to provide an instant answer.  Just an opinion.
Roger Schank has written some more advice for high school students. I'm not sure it's useful advice though.

High school is society's last chance for giving its upcoming citizens some common ground. Remember that today's young people will be running things tomorrow. This opportunity to expose young people to the wide scope of human knowledge and achievement is, I suspect, generally of great benefit to us all. There are certainly many shortcomings in the details of the implementation of our system of education but the broader message, "here's what we know, now move on from this and make your own decisions and discoveries" is an important one. 

I can only speak from the experience of two high school systems located in different provinces of Canada but they were both well suited to a wide variety of interests and abilities. I wonder too if high school here in Canada isn't a bit different from what it is wherever Roger Schank calls home. We do hear in Canada that the system in many states of the USA is much more focussed on mastering material for standardized tests. We have that to some degree here but it didn't seem to me, as someone who experienced high school in the 1980s and who watched two children move through it in the 2000s, that this was a very significant motivator for teachers and the system here in British Columbia. Perhaps the author is a bit geographically and geopolitically limited in his experience (I know nothing about him personally). As a professor of computer science it seems likely he, at least, went somewhere away from home for a post-doctoral year or two, but maybe not.

High school gave me the opportunity to take a lot of "learning by doing" classes: wood working, electricity (basically residential wiring and supply), electronics, and metal working. My chemistry and physics classes were busy with "doing" experiments as well as learning theory. Biology was boring memorization but I don't regret the exposure to the subject especially getting some sense of the terminology and history of the material. French class, typing (!), history and geography all contribute to the general knowledge that forms a big part of my personality. Useless practically (well, not typing) but contributing to Me. 

Sure I (and my kids) spent time learning some things we don't "need" in daily life but, I believe, this has made me a better person. Better because high school helped me get an overall sense of human society and the universe that I wouldn't have stumbled across by pursuing my own interests. 

None if this will impress Roger Schank since I suspect he's quite certain that he knows better than most others. There is a considerable smug confidence apparent in his complaints and that part is perhaps what bothers me most. He seems quite bitter about the time he apparently wasted in high school. This fits well with his smug attitude. He's sure that, if he had been left to himself, he would have made better use of that time. That's something no one can answer but I will say that there are certainly some kids (a really small fraction I would guess) that could indeed make a lot of headway into a significant, productive career if left on their own. Most couldn't or wouldn't. My guess is that this fellow wouldn't be significantly "ahead" had he skipped his useless high school courses either.

There also seems to a distinct lack of real solutions offered up to replace high school. He just concludes with a general comment about how to deal with the current system (put up with it an move on). Really, a better short term solution that would go much farther to supporting his thesis is something like: there's a lot on offer in high school, use this time to explore your interests so that you are better prepared to take on the world when the time comes for you to move on, if nothing else you will come out with a knowledge of how to deal with the somewhat mindless bureaucracy present all around in society. Of course, this would only speak to the tiny percentage of kids that are focussed and mature at an early enough age for this to make sense. 

There is certainly some truth in what he says about the broader failings of our system of general education. We do need more time to explore and learn by doing but we also need time to mature and to grow into the best adults that we can be. Perhaps we can work on making high school better by encouraging those planning curricula to be more objective about what helps people do better in society. So, Roger Schank, the challenge then goes back to you. Show us how a better alternative would work. How would it benefit most students? What about society as a whole? It's not something we can or should change too quickly or easily. 
Sorry, it's absurd to think that students should just pick what's interesting to them. A nation a skateboarders and worshipers of pop idols. You study chemistry, history, calculus, and Shakespeare, as part of the path to figure out how to focus your time later. Unless you consider High School to be quite completely adequate to a nation of facebook browsers.

Tellingly, any contrary opinion to the article is PRE-LABELED "hate mail" in the first paragraph :/
HS taught me to sit still. Very important for employment.
Well high school education is like basic education, where we learn a bit of everything, including may be learning skills, it is after that stage that we start to specialize.
As a parent, I want my child to continuously learn everyday so her brain doesn't turn to mush. I worked with her patiently as a toddler and she knew the alphabet and basic addition and subtraction before kindergarten . I backed off when she went to school and then saw my hard work deteriorate in a soft, lazy school system more geared to daycare than teaching. Education... It's like lifting weights or exercising, you see the benefits if you don't stop. 
The minute I read the words "slavery wasn't so bad," I stopped reading. What an unbelievably ignorant comment to make. Why would I listen to a single thing someone so dumb would say after that garbage?
Well, I think that this is one of the stupidest things I ever read in my life. Some people won't appreciate Shakespeare until someone forces to read them. High school is an initiation and gives the student a great view of how many things are there to study. Also, math is a great help when the student wants to go to college. Of course, he can choose repairing shoes. It's a very promising career!

Some people don't want to drive cars: They want to create them!
This is great. Excuses to keep people ign'ant and stupid. You go ahead and don't learn math. You make me look smarter by comparison. And by the way, I use calculus in my daily life for ordinary things, because I can and it helps. You all go ahead and comfort yourselves with the thought that your intellectual inadequacy doesn't matter, because articles like this give the sop to your ego. After all, it's not like you're capable of learning math, or anything. That's all right. As Huxley wrote, you deltas are very important in society, really you are! Just keep practicing that key phrase, "Would you like fries with that?"
I use maths every single day, including algebra trig mechanics probability etc I use a lot of things from school, the guy is an idiot
People are ridiculing this because it is ridiculous. We need more engineer, scientists, makers...  not ignorant consumers.  How is anyone supposed to know what field they might like if they're not exposed to anything?

A reasonably successful movement is heavily using robotics competitions to encourage kids to become interested in STEM.  Do you think robotics is going to be useful to many of those kids?  Hell no.  But it opens doors, not the least of which are mental doors.

While school courses could greatly be improved, the subjects are important exposures to a universe of ideas that children need to be exposed to if there's any hope of them developing into leaders (or even competent workers) in the fields we need the most.

Unfortunately, one side effect of telling kids they're awesome all the time is they grow up actually believing it. Later, if they've managed to be halfway successful in life, they think their ignorant ramblings are actually wise. 

The fact that this guy is a CS professor doesn't help his case much.  If there's any field full of self-important douchbags that think they know everything CS is it. (which very possibly doesn't exclude myself :)

Effectively using information depends on being able to place that information into context. With a very wide body of knowledge, you'll know how that information fits in with what else you know.  That chemstry class topic of concentration and dilution may save your 2 year old's life when you intuitively realize that the OTC medication's dose for an adult is not what your kid should have.  There's all kinds of examples... but my wife is calling me down for lunch so I gotta go.

Without a broad context, people are just accumulating a huge bag of useless individual facts that don't actually lead to much understanding.  We've got enough of that already, thank you very much.
I agree with this. However, an artist cannot "learn" to be creative. That be known I understand nowadays one could learn how to type, how to build a computer, how to design, how to work on cars, how to fabricate metal, you name it... Given the right program and high school.
This man is a genius! My main issues with the school system in general. All these kids grow up and are idiots if they don't research themselves because they are taught useless stuff. My high school reason projects made me hate reading. As a 16 year old boy I didn't want to tea the scarlet letter, I wanted to read war stories. 
This article over indulges in the subjects that are not needed. For example, algebra is used on a daily basis. From splitting a pizza with a group of friends to calculating sales on merchandise and figuring out how much money is saved from X percent off.

Although I can see your argument about learning a foreign language, I think you exaggerate the point of not needing other subjects. If you take economics for instance and are able to understand the idea of resources with limited amount of supply and constant demand then you learn why sustainability is important. You can also apply this to self budgeting (fixed income yet endless needs like food, shelter, and treating oneself). This expands your mind because you are able to apply similar methodology to different situations which is learned in a subject which this article dismisses.
It would be interesting to ponder if this "Learn what you need/want" motto relates somehow on the current lack of aesthetic education. Also interesting, is that the relative lack of development in epistemology renders the discussion of "is better to experience the flower than reading about the flower" to be unrelated to the nature of knowledge.

Indeed, people will always have good reasons for and against learning more that what we need to learn. However, that might be a consequence of a faulty philosophical analysis, as there is always (at least) one assumption that we treat axiomatically.
Well, it does kind of make sense.  However, the kids have twelve years of schooling.  Revamping the curriculum to throw out everything except how to write well, and how to stay healthy would leave .... what?   And for how long?  So what are the children supposed to after the sixth grade?  IMO, as a teacher, learning anything is NEVER a waste of time.  You may not ever need much of it, but it's all in there, shaping who you are and how  you feel about things whether you realize it or not.  Tis better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.
If more kids would get outside instead of playin video games they would learn way more than the internet could ever teach there is soo much to learn from people nature and everyday experiences
A silly critique, one that fails to grasp what's important about school.  99 percent (at least) of anything that we "learn" in school is "knowledge" because we accept the authority of the system that provides it.  Ultimately, I suppose, we are accepting, in the sense of believing in, the legitimacy of the politico-social system that provides our education.  So the really important thing that happens in school is that we try to "learn," and in a ritual that repeatedly epitomizes our allegiance to the authority of school, we take tests, exams, in which we affirm and act out the authority of the system.  This ritual affirmation of authority wouldn't work very well, I believe, if the participants didn't themselves believe that they were teaching and learning.  Compare this odd situation, where people have to believe what's not real in order to effect the reality of society and its knowledge, to voting.  It's hugely important that vast numbers of us vote, and our participation in elections does indeed determine who holds office, but in big elections,  my vote is technically meaningless.  No presidential election could possibly be determined by one vote (or 100, for that matter), because the inevitable recount would produce a different outcome.  (It wouldn't be, "yep, by golly, it was 31,567,113 to 31,567,114, just like the first count!"  Same goes for counting the votes of each state.)  So, imo, the belief of most people (even many political scientists who should know better) that their vote counts, in the sense that it could possibly make a difference whether I vote for Obama or Romney, is important, even crucial, to the viability of modern mass democracies.  It wouldn't work if people didn't think they were efficaciously choosing.  So people have to believe something that's not true in order to truly elect their officials. 
I generally agree with the author's list of subjects that are, for the most part, useless. Except he didn't list the most important lesson one learns at high school: how to survive high school and graduate.
The lack of understanding is simply profound. Have you all considered that one of the reasons for teaching subjects "students will never need" is because we are in fact helping their brains to develop? My students will probably never use chemistry per se but the goal is to get them to think critically, think in new ways that their parents most likely do not provide.
I think some college classes are more useless that most high school classes. In high school, you're exposed to these classes and there's a chance that you will find your interest (if you still haven't found it) and will help you decide if that's what you want to major in college. But in college, even though you're already majoring in one area, you're still forced to take classes that's got NOTHING to do with your major. It's wasting a lot of time and money when college students should be focusing in with their major.
A bit relieved to see that...I too am in high school and I just hate it...
Something that I wish high schools would teach is that if you choose to have a child, then YOU are responsible for their education.  
High school, to me,  was a base to launch from.  I'm not a chemist, physicist, biologist or mathematician,  but I am glad that I took those classes anyway.  Even though I don't use those subjects in a specific practical way now, I do retain a basic understanding of how the world is put together and how it functions.  I have a basic understanding of Scientific Method.  I am glad that I was made to read, analyze, and report on books that I had no interest in at the time.  I learned the value of considering viewpoints that were different from my own, and even discovered some viewpoints that I wasn't aware of as a teenager.  Some of these books I re-read later in life because I had matured and now found them interesting and enriching.  
I am trying to imagine what my life would have been like had I only been taught the "Three R's".  It seems a pretty bleak picture.  Would I have suddenly out of the blue developed an interest in algebra?  Doubtful.  I don't use algebraic equations often these days, but I am glad that I can.  I am glad that I learned the method of thinking required to solve an algebraic equation which I have used in so many other aspects of my life, often without even being conscious of doing it.  Everyone has a different experience in school effected by different parenting and different schools in different states and localities.  Generalizing high school as something we don't need doesn't take these into account.  
I am also glad that I was made to eat vegetables that I didn't like as a child. :) 
Dubz Co
thats what I wanted to say Kenneth but really could not be bothers with the finger exercise ,. so thank u ;)
My father, insisted that i dont take typing class, because he came with aching shoulders everyday from work. He wanted his children to be spared. I ended up in software :) strange how things line up..
Problem with parents teaching THEIR kids is that the parents can't teach them the difference between their and there apparently.  This is why there is school.
I have just read Mr. Schank's profile and several of his stories. I have to agree with him. Since the age of 8, I was called a Know it all. Why? Simple. I knew more than what I was being taught. I did not spend my time with read this and answer that. I went to the library and researched a subject. No, my parents were of no help as they were both school drop outs. I have always believed that if the U.S. wants to be the best, then they need to tear down the old school thoughts and rebuild. Mr. Schank has the same thoughts as I. Teach these young people to function. Teach the young women to be good mothers. Teach the young men to be good providers. Take a look around. If you can not see that these are true statements then you really are as dumbed down as predicted. OMG a young Sudan boy just came up to my back door and asked me if I wanted to buy his replica sword. What makes his question so bad is that the sword DOES NOT BELONG TO HIM. These people (from the Sudan) can't speak English but want me to buy a stolen sword.   Need I say any more?
Ive no problem believing haters have cost me so much so hard to trust
+Corrlin Perry so maths isn't going to help with those balance sheets an break even charts etc when you have your own sweets company? And biology and chemistry are extremely helpful when becoming a chef, whether it be from a Healy and safety food hygiene perspective, or from a creativity point of view learning how different foods and techniques combine
which I don't like finally who an what I'd dreamed for years so happy all ways but trusting others
+Joseph Ruelos i caught that as well.  

i liked the post - provocative, but definitely debatable.  i happen to agree with much of it.  in my own story i did well in high school, but it did not provide me with my life's direction.  that came much later.  too late, in fact, for me to pursue new found passions.    
In all education.... you get back from it only what you put into it. The usefulness lies in what you choose to learn and apply. The choices are yours.
If I try to argue a similar point at school, I will be promptly sent to the guillotine.
The people I know who said this at school have amounted to nothing, and live narrow minded, benefit receiving, waiting for the next beer, lives.

Yes we can change the way it is applied to be less about remembering facts and more about applying yourself, but ultimately that has to come from a sociological change, so that people view learning differently and are proud to try their hardest an aspire to be as smart as they can.

i know just saying hate such an evil I feel sick on some things I read people say in my case they scare me cannot totally enjoy finally being female
I never went to high school. I was home schooled. For the most part, I was self taught from the 4th grade on. I tried high school for a month, but dropped right back out because the work was too easy and boring and pointless. All the teachers were just working a boring routine, like they'll do every year until retirement. Standardized testing is also a tool of the ignorant. You can't judge a students real intelligence teaching to a test that any idiot should be able to pass... if they're properly taught the knowledge behind the test.
Some people have to grow up to excel, and at times, this doesn't happen until after high school. My modest goals in high school included not failing and obtaining as much beer as possible. 
the main skills i learned in high school involved computer classes.  none of which i use today, except for learning, "this is a hard drive, this is a cpu, this is a monitor, this is a keyboard".  the skills i use today i had taught myself, from a UNIX learning book published by McGraw Hill
As a high school student myself I have asked the same question posed here.... Why does this matter to my life? The best answer I got was "if you ever want to be a writher this will matter" I wasn't to go to college for architecture, not to be an English major. I don't understand how the whole school system of America can say that we are doing better than so many countries when we are only learning stuff for tests and not for our every day life. I'm the future generation of the United States of America, the world, and you are teaching me stuff so you can make yourself look better??? I don't see how people see that as acceptable.
High school is an enormous and transformative experience for teenagers, and this article doesn't even begin to explain what he would replace that experience with.
Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man" changed how I look at society and the human experience.
High school is where I first studied philosophy, which has changed everything about me for the better.
Physics class changed how I understood the the universe itself.
Even with the terrible math curricula in place, Roger Schank and I have both made extensive use of our high school math educations.
French, "economics", and biology were all vaguely useless, yes.
I am a grad student in a molecular genetics program and from my personal experience I would have to say that yes, biology, chemistry, math, and English are all necessary courses for the intellectual development of a teenager.
Why stop there, never used a thing I learned in HS or College at my job...
I am 64 and I have to agree with Brett
Not this "I don't need math" BS again. A poor understanding of math and science is one the core drivers behind under achievement and a lack of employment options for new college grads.
Whatever the subject, it all depends on the TEACHER.  There's almost nothing that isn't worth learning or being introduced to in high school, and a great teacher can open your mind in ways you weren't expecting. 
Of course most of the curricula are irrelevant.  The trivia you have to juggle in your head to pass exams is transient and of little practical value.  High school (and college) are more about becoming a member of a tribe that includes high-school and college-educated members.  Plenty of professional activities are the same - what really matters isn't that you got a degree in this or that (or especially what your exam grades were), it's that you all have common experience and common vocabulary and a common framework to facilitate communications on the same level.

25+ years on, the things I took in high school that I feel mattered most were Latin (where I did learn English grammar and how langauges work, helping me to learn enough to speak with locals on my travels beyond, "where is the bathroom?" and "two beers, please"); Math (yes... unlike the writer, I have used math through Trig and occasionally some Calculus, but I work in technology and have to juggle numbers large and small, write software that translates coordinate systems and graphs results, etc); and History/classical Literature, because not everything in life is about how to get a job - humans are creative monkeys and we've had a lot of time to create a lot of stuff that's worth the time to read.  I liked science and art as subjects, but the good stuff there came later, away from school (visiting museums around the world, and working for, then later with scientists of various stripes).
I see a lot of anecdotes, not a whole lot of evidence. Just because you made it without having to know something doesn't mean that everyone else can.
Sure, just give more fuel to the fire for uninterested students.  "It's not interesting, or boring, or interactive (like video games)."  Yeah, because 90% of real life isn't boring?  Teaching kids how to succeed despite the tedium of the tasks teaches them how to succeed at real life.  Learn how to read an incredibly boring contract=succeed; learn how to rock an annoying child to sleep=suceed;  Learn how to write in javascript or html (boring)=succeed.  Learn how to fact check politicians so you vote authentically=succeed.  How many of these kids who are one-track minded can do all these tasks?  Not many.  Get well rounded, kids, even if you hate it.  
So Tru it until your last fees years that you do things that actually apply to real life....too be honest I think schools should learn how do real life experience along with their subject in are early years so we won't be completely lost when we get out.
The most valuable and enduring class I took in high school was typing.
Some of these things are true, but a lot aren't. I don't think he realizes that there are advanced courses in high school that teach History and English well, and there are reasons we learn some of these courses. The History book I learned from did not always make Americans the "good guys". We learn classics in English so we can write better, and understand a more diverse vocabulary. Other classes are there so that  students have a more general knowledge of other subjects. Basically, we don't want a society of idiots.
I agree with this statement, however it does matter if children are taught how to learn. Sadly this seldom happens where it matters, in grade school.
Focus by Mike Schmoker makes a similar argument but actually gives a blueprint to reform education(again). I think the process of reading, thinking, and communicating are important and can be reinforced in may subject. I think the basic understanding of many of these subjects is helpful in life. One of the benefits of STEM classes not mentioned is the process of project management which is applied with different levels of effectiveness in life. Problem solving across disciples would also be helpful in life. America without high school would be disastrous. Reforming school is and will continue to happen. We should be involved more in that process than arguing to throw the baby out with the bath water.
Is the logic simply that these teachings are easy to test? I wholeheartedly agree with most of your explanations. There should be more discussion, evaluation, theorising and 'figuring it out for yourself'...
It seems that everything after grades 6-8 are just recycled again and again. Our public education system needs a massive overhaul. What an ineffective waste of tax dollars and young students time ... and only to send most on to college to repeat the process. I'm supplementing my boys' education with trips to various museums, facilities and lots of time at the library.
I didn't know that frogs could do that while in formaldehyde... \-)))
aaaawwww!!!!!!!!!!!!!!how did that work out for you
School teaches you about the world, teaches you to think, to question, to see, to analyze, to dream, and of course, how not to be an ignorant douche. 
I think he's way off the mark here. All classes are taught for a reason. We need to understand more than how to plant vegetables and defend our young. The basics in life are important but life today is not so simple as that. The purpose of school is to relay to our future generations the knowledge we have accumulated over time. If we want them to be better than ourselves (as would any good mother or father) we should give them all the knowledge we possess. But that isn't enough. We need to explain HOW we came by this knowledge. That is even more important than the knowledge itself. This is the part that does seem to be missing in today's school curriculum. Many classes do explain the processes that lead to the answers but many do not. I believe memorizing the answers but not understanding the path to acquire those answers is a problem with our kids today. Many adults clearly don't understand how to logically and reasonably discern a statement of fact from a statement of fiction. If all we're teaching kids is to memorize what they're told, we're creating unthinking sheep ready to be taken advantage of by ruthless liars. Knowing HOW to arrive at an accurate and evidence-based conclusion is what is most important. You can have the Encyclopedia Brittanica memorized but if you don't know how those conclusions came to be called facts, you're in trouble. Science class is the most useful class I believe. Not only does it teach what we believe to be the best answers we have to explain the world we live in (based on the evidence we have), but it usually explains the path that was taken to get us to those answers. It doesn't simply expect memorization. It expects that you understand how we should think about a problem and arrive at the most reasonable solution possible by giving many examples of intelligent folks doing just that throughout history. Science leads to critical thinking if taught properly and that is more useful than anything else. It's the thought process that needs to be taught. That is what's lacking in today's society. All classes teach something useful. All classes give us insight into our world we may otherwise never have the opportunity to experience. How would we know if we wanted to be a physicist if we never took a physics class? Even if we decide to enter a profession that doesn't require a that particular knowledge, we will have (at the very least) acquired a rudimentary understanding of it if it ever did become relevant to us. School may not seem to teach what we need but go find someone who has never been taught these basics and ask yourself if you would want a society which doesn't understand these basics.
funny how butthurt they get when their ass is exposed
our schools are total bullshit, broken and wasteful. but his arguments are just dumb.
I would agree with each word if it were a tad more constructive. foreign languages are in fact a very hard subject to learn in terms of grammar and that nonsense. chemistry i truly like because i can learn how different chemicals react to one another, therefor knowing how to bypass a problem or simply avoid a problem altogether. Physics is fun in some cases but the use of the formulas does make little sense in terms of practical use. biology... well i am truly in love with biology, lets me learn how different things work outside of the human body. if you were to make a statement about math, then i would totally agree on that, far too much of pointless math and not enough practical uses.

i would honestly say that alot of things in our education system is somewhat out of wack, but in truth it is very thorough. 
I figured it out midway through college. Except for very specific curricula such as engineering, architecture, and things like that, it is all just a "paper chase". You are proving that you can take crap. That's about all your degree is, a piece of paper proving that you can take all the shit they can dish out.

My degree was a BS in Psychology. Then my 34-year career was in computer systems administration. I had top grades in school, then I was a top performer in my career. But they had absolutely nothing to do with each other. I never could have started the career without the degree, though.
Well of course the majority of the range of subjects you study at school won't be useful in your day to day adult life, either you drop out and none of them are of use, or you go to uni and specialise therefore only focusing on key areas. To argue nobody should even begin to study these subjects is just nonsense. Would you want to fly on a plane designed in a world where nobody understands physics and maths?
what i think is that, majority of subject that we study are not useful but they are giving us ability and capacity of thinking for future.
+Donna Zack you've stated the primary reason we homeschooled our children even though we live in a great school district.
Universal public schooling brought the U.S. to the near 100% level of literacy that we enjoy today. Compare that to eras before communities took responsibility for educating all of their young people.  Does the system have deep, glaring flaws? Yup. But those flaws are fixable. We could start by making teaching into a competitive career choice to attract better talent -- rather than paying teachers a low enough salary to only attract either altruists or slackers. 
isnt middle school more of a waste? like you take the exact same classes with the exact same content in high school minus the weird population of pubescent 13 year olds? and dont most education systems around the world not have a middle school? i get a lil upset when i hear that 16 year olds in india and peru are already in college and by 18 they are more or less done. im in grad school...didnt skip a grade or take a year off...and ill be fully done by the time im 26.
Kit, thats a load of unrefined bullshit and you know it

speaking as an australian, and our schooling system isnt infamously bad. I learned most of my literacy and grammar through television, computer games and curiosity, not because some fat ass teacher made me write an essay.

also, near 100% level of literacy that we enjoy today?


sorry to break it to you dude, but i know more foreigners who speak well and formerly than i know americans who can construct decent sentences

also Glynn has a point, how much help is algebra going to be post education

algebrae teacher, thats it.

congratulations, you have now the knowledge that helps with something on a scale of jack to squat

also i agree that schools were indeed very helpful at one stage, before tv and video games, but now it ends up that video games are superbly better than school for teaching because A: They're fun.
B: They instate curiosity in the children and they look it up.

They're are very few fun teachers in the schooling epicentre now because most of them have either retired or see that video games have taken their place.

You basically end up with the government hiring just about god damn anyone so they can get their money and all they request is a degree of some kind.
I love the fact that even the most idiotic theories get a fair shake in the marketplace ideas.  This has got to be the most anti-intellectual bit of drivel I have seen all year.
I must have gone to the best high school in the U.S.

All of the classes he mentions were taught in the ways he describes. I'm not foolish enough to actually think it is perfect, but it was very good practically speaking.

As a college prep school, it was lacking because the college taught the other way. As an engineer, I think both are very important. Learning the background behind something in question and approaching it with practicality. That is my two cents.
Pep Cookiedoe, Sorry to break it to you dude, but you can't construct a sentence either.  Not all learning will come from school but like many things in life, you only get back what you put in.
A student will learn if they are motivated and I agree that the Education system needs to be more motivating but we do have students that are achieving great things because teachers really do care.  It is clear that you are full of anger which blinds you to really learning. 
Algebra is used in engineering and other areas, so it is useful depending on what your chosen profession is.
Let go of the hate and open your mind, you will be amazed at what you will see.
The stuff you learn in high school will be useful if you're considering taking up a job in the sciences or literature or math. Students need to understand the joy of learning something new and knowledge, even if you'll never use it in the future
Well, +Pep Cookiedoe, I'd point out that in 2008 UNESCO reported a 98% literacy rate for the U.S. (they ranked Australia rather high as well, so kudos). But you sound like a sub-literate dick, so I'll just block you instead of debate.
It should be pointed out that the parent article doesn't call for the abolition of public schooling, it just points out that much of the curriculum is flawed. Everybody can extinguish their hair.

It's a point well taken, even though I don't think it's quite as bad as the author makes out. I'd like to see local school boards taken out of the mix and some national standards put into place. Local yokels have no business determining what is or isn't science, and they have a bad tendency to inject religion and other poorly thought-out ideas into schools. 
This content of thread is itself either an example of the failure of public education or a practical advertisement for why we really need some badly.
True so if your good in math and science n your core subject s in your form school remeber that to well to get a realy good grade would get u 2 purson goup to map a mouse disec in make a. Hypothesis on the out come how this mite of .bittin the dust
.....leaft 3rd 4 year boaring eney one 4 crem barey or. Mince in scons u had to take cook ing or sowing no art yes s ...enging artatic. No you had to pass 5 to go 4 th to 5 or u got held back it not realy good not show days havint realy changd yes so after make a pallits repair damagd goods on probation 6 month then to opear directions floor hand molty tusker name it life starts after school in before wasint no meaing s jobe money food had no Gst vegg food ..
This has been true for a long time. Anything you need to know you've already learned by the time you get to high school, or you'll learn in college. High school is nothing more than a state funded babysitting service designed to keep teens from having even more sex than they already do.
I agree. Being judged and labeled based on one's ability to memorize "stuff" is dumb. Usually, one's memory is the first to go. It's even worse when we are forced to memorize things we will never apply in life.
Dave, please. My sentences are more well constructed than half the amercian twats I know, and im not trying, oh i can speak formal if i want, but i dont really give a shit.

Okay, my bad on the Algebra thing, I didn't know that.

Honestly I'd be okay with school as a system if it was fun.

But currently, its a boring grind to reach graduation, the teachers are fucking horrendous nowadays, your bullied for being smart, chastised for outwitting teachers, and then people wonder why you dropped out, heres the big reveal people.

School is now an unappetizing pail of sloppy yellow camel shit. I really feel sorry for the young ones that have to go through such an arduous process to graduate. In my day it wasn't so bad, but i still dropped out at 9th Grade.

The funny thing is, I can still easily get into uni because im a little older now, heres what schooling needs to have happen for it to actually be enjoyable.

Either: make it fun
Or: Make it not occupy 30 hours of god damn week. Seriously thats fucked.

I think if a child went to school 3 hours a day, instead of 6, it would give them more things to get curious about in the long run, and they would be able to spend more time with their parents or at home playing and doing things they enjoy.
I completely agree with this and I remember the answer that my high school math teacher gave me when I questioned her about what was the point in the work and this was her answer:

"I honestly have no idea why you're learning this because you will almost certainly never use it again, however you only have one chance to show that you are better at this than other people are so if I were you I'd work as hard as you can to show future employers that you are very good at doing something that you don't need to be able to do as for some reason they will think more highly of you for this" …or something very similar to this.
disagree...high school is preparatory and a basis of foundation for college......if you feel its a waste of are not trying hard enough
When your on holaday repair tent use firber glass. Fishing line how meny young school leavers to day. Ask them referring to a poll in ique test n no mean s in what part of no did int you under stand .
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Ken S
Went straight over your head, didn't it?
tony d
I learned how to play tennis and ping pong. ....what else?....uhmmm....
I find it sad how stupid our society is. When I took my entrance exam for college, I tested out of reading and was on level for math and writing. I was shocked by this, because in high school I was the kid that never did any assignments and didn't even bother showing up my junior year. For me to get these scores shows the lack of intelligence in our country.
Wait a minute! Let us clarify one thing here. It is not that we should stop teaching Physics, Chemistry, Algebra, History and other subjects in High School. We should continue to teach them BUT they should be taught in a DIFFERENT way. 

I teach Physics at the college level and I know of people who does the same however, they fail to connect this difficult subject to real life: they do not know how to APPLY Physics to the real world (and the same applies to other subjects). Applied knowledge is a very difficult skill to master indeed: it requires unique experiences and commitment not just to science and society but to education in general.

So, if you do learn these subjects in High School, I can assure you, it will matter to you in life even if your High School professor does not know it. What we need, in instead, better ways of teaching.
I still remember the soliloquy I memorized from Julius Caesar in the 10th grade, my Latin conjugations, and periodic table
Master mind even who whant s to be a millenia air nz tv .did we already have fear factour another grate brane game ..did already do jeopardy h could int fly with out wing s play ed rounder s did that sting ski slide crash damp dam car crost the fine white line nture chang stop n give way .we didnt have a biker s law then for motor car absent minded driver do we now .biker right dam true .funny now .
There are two skills that are absolutely necessary and yet woefully under-taught: The first is to be able to read an article, whether in a "newspaper" or journal and tell how it is slanted by the author. (What facts are omitted? Which are inordinately highlighted?) The second is to be able to determine whether any conclusions are warranted by the facts presented.
Roger Schank  is right, if you want a nation of idiots that will do nothing but fight with each other, or worse yet, believe everything they are told. There are many flaws to Rogers logic, I’m sure someone smarter than I could write a book on all the ways. I’ll just go on to say that schools need to give students a very broad, but in depth look at the world around them and teach how it got to be the way that it is. 
I agree that it is true, you don't need to know all the details about anything they teach you in school, but you do need to know where to find them if you need them and to know whether or not they exist to be found
If we don't all share basic understandings of math and the sciences then we will spend decades trying to educate people every time you do anything that requires the public’s approval or help.
IMO everyone should try and learn advanced mathematics, physics, chemistry and so on, if only to understand that it's extremely complicated, as is the world around them. Then maybe people will know that the PhD scientists are generally more trustworthy then the GED politicians.
We still need computer hardware engineers, but if Roger were to have his way, none of them would come from America.
This is a little sad. What kind of society do we live in today where people think education isn't important? How do you think teachers feel when they read this? They slave away to try to teach at a meager salary and people say stuff like this...
Bullshit. You are taught to write well. Whether you take the free opportunity to learn it is up to you, skippy.
+Brandon Trivett haha! I teach in Texas and because of it I agree with this blog. Fortunately, I work with a select group of teachers that love doing things out of the norm. For example in Physics, the teacher was an Engineer. He loved teaching Engineering with the obvious Physics behind it and not to the book. I always thought it was so cool the projects they were doing. I don't necessarily feel high school courses are irrevelant, but the manner the American education system sets them up is at biggest fault. 
As a soon to be engineer, I know for a fact that in Canada Physics, Chemistry, and Calculus are all building blocks for the skills and theory to help ensure you can design things and ensure that they are fundamentally sound.
I went to two years of high school and one of those I was mostly stoned. Still I managed to test my way into the Cal. State University system three years after I last set foot in a high school classroom. My ex-wife went to two years of high school and about eight years of college with a bachelors, masters and several educational credentials. My oldest daughter went to two years of high school and started junior college and is now attending UCSC.

Please tell me again what four years of high school is for? 

+Pep Cookiedoe Circle'd for that brilliant and amusing comment. 
It is only good to have the "introduction" part of every subject. Like, engineering 101, chemistry 101, etc. in addition to the must-known general knowledge, so that every student has the picture of which major they should be taken in college that match their future career goals.
How many adults have you met in life that are miserable with the careers their 17-year old self selected for them because "it makes money" or "it looked interesting on television."

While I would agree that a certain grounding in mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology is absolutely necessary we aren't currently teaching these things in ways that prepare students to retain a good conceptual knowledge of science or giving them a solid perspective about what a workday looks like for a medical professional, research biologist, programmer or lawyer.  The initial classroom experience and the eventual workplace experience couldn't be more different in many cases. 
I fully disagree. While he is right on some minor points in his original article, he gets the whole picture wrong. For sure you need mathematics. Right, you don't need to know the formula for quadratic qequations in your head. But you should know, that there is one and you should know hot wo use it.
You don't need mathematics? Good luck with that the next time some professional at the bank is talking about the loan on your house. He'll for sure have only your best in his mind and never will he try to get more money out of your pocket into his own!
Same thing about chemitry and biology.
If you don't have a basic knowlege about that stuff, you have to believe everything other people are telling you. And people are telling a lot of BS these days (and always have).
Physics? Sure, you can let people tell you everything about fue consumption of your car and economic driving... but you could also use your high school physics and figure it all out yourself...

Yeah, keep the people uneducated. It's a good idea. This makes it a lot easier to influence them... If people do not have at least basic knowlege about math, physics, biology and chemistry (and all the other stuff): what should they base the desicions they take upon? Oh yeah, the leaders will tell them, right?
The contents, yes. But not the experience.
This is why I'm homeschooling my children
My 10th grade English teacher once told me "the public education system is not meant to teach you, its meant to teach you your place!" Which is true. We are taught to memorize, not to learn. Most people know 2+2=4 but if u ask them what the rule of addition is they get confused. School teaches you to accept things at face value because you are told to, not to question authority, and dont worry about figuring things out for urself, they will give u a test and tell u which ones u got wrong.
I totally disagree.

I use math all the time because i work on machine learning problems at a med-tech startup. If i hadn't been taught math in school, i wouldn't have been able to pick up physics and more advanced math later and i wouldn't have the awesome job i now have.

I like to think that all the education we get in high school is there assuming we don't already know what we want to do with our lives when we're 14 years old. We get a kind of swiss army education, and it gives us the freedom to choose a path later on down the road.

That being said, any class whose content we don't directly remember or doesn't get absorbed into our way of seeing things is useless. I'm looking at you, history!

I being a student would say this is a complex argument because it is right and palso wrong because true school should be taught well and the material should also be assimilated and true is useful in many instances of our everyday life but there is what i call educational school and the school of life most of the stuff i know is first of all cuz i was interested and curiuos to know it but the rest i learned it through personal experiences and i know im still learning so at the end of the day for me personally these two complete themselves in one way or the other but i don't say having one means nothing.
By focussing on a subject, you are missing the point. It isn't necessarily what it being taught, but why it is being taught.
I don't agree as far as the subject matter you learn in school...there will be times when a lot of it benefits you; however, I do agree that getting a job and moving up in a career has a lot more to do with political BS and learning how to network aka schmooze...I have a master's degree and it hasn't helped me overcome political hurdles...just sayin'...bottom doesn't guarantee you success!!
Education is a complex subject.  I left school a lot of years ago and back then, we learned everything from books and dedicated teachers.  No computers, no calculators, nothing even remotely electronic.   We also learned interaction, manners, discipline and a host of other life skills that seem to be missing nowadays. 
3 trades (Maths was handy there) and a pile of qualifications later and I am still learning.  I have even been a Lecturer which taught me more about people and learning than I thought would have been possible.
Just for the record, I was in my thirties when I finally decided what I wanted to do when I left school.  It took me another 4 years to get there.
That's like saying you don't need to crawl before you walk. It's not to say people who did poorly in HS don't amount to anything as I'm sure many do, but students who are in AP classes sure have a leg up once starting college.
+Dave Burzacott I don't think technology is either the problem or the panacea that some administrators seem to think it is. I can see a lot of value in replacing text books that go out of date every few years with electronic versions that can be updated, at least in high school. I'm also keenly aware that adding tecnology to a bad presentation merely gives you a bad presentation with technology. Teachers need to understand when and how to use any tool.
On another note, another issue I see is all the mandated stop-gap content schools are forced to teach to try to make up for non-existent or poor parenting.
(I know this post is all over the place.)
A final issue is that school is not the best solution for everyone. Schools aim at the middle of the bell-curve. If you're exceptional; either high or low; you'll have difficulty. My brother and I both read constantly in class in order to keep our minds occupied at the slow pace. Other folks would be better served with apprenticeships or vocational training. We expect school to be all things for all people. It can't be. We need other options.
Every thing u learn matters
My real education started when I left high school.  And there was nothing (apart from English literature) that prepared me for what I would ultimately be doing with my life.
Dats nt completely true! Wot u learnt in high school certainly do make a difference in ur future...think about it!
Спор ни о чем... Любое образование- приобретение навыка и опыта- сублимация таковых за всю историю развития цивилизации. Тот, кто не хочет учиться, обрекает себя на жизнь в прошлом. Когда кончается прогресс- начинается регресс... Отсутствие желания развиваться приводит к деградации и личности, и , в результате общества.  
i didnt have a good knowldge of my future so i thought that i still using my high school education....
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