The Sentiment That Ruined Public Education

What You Didn’t Learn in School

This seemingly benign statement has ruined public education. It didn’t happen overnight but decades. We’ve all heard this phrase in our lives, whether it is actually trying to attack education or not. “What you didn’t learn in school” is awesome clickbait because we’ve been fooled into thinking that we know how education should work.

If you want school to teach students EVERYTHING you believe they will need as an adult then the educational system will look different from how it does today.

Students would be in school year-round and all day. Mastery wouldn’t just be a word thrown around but it would be a requirement to move forward in learning. Not a great reader? Not moving up to the next grade. Math is a challenge? Same thing.

Censoring subjects because of political or religious beliefs wouldn’t be possible and subjects that many love and think are important wouldn’t be taught. The essence of learning would be reduced and narrowly focused on a few things.

If you read these articles often, they tend to focus on skills that are either not academic and therefore not a school subject or they focus on things you could figure out as a graduate. So no, learning to change the oil in a car shouldn’t be taught in school just like basic home maintenance shouldn’t be taught.

Some articles focus on students not knowing how to do laundry or how to sew a button back on a shirt. We could have a discussion about home economics classes but should a high school diploma depend on if a student can use a washing machine?

The real problem is that people equate knowledge of things (like history or literature or basic scientific theories) with intelligence. Knowing the dates and battles of the American Revolution has little to do with intelligence and more to do with memory OR interest level. If you don’t continue to learn after you graduate you won’t know much.

Learning is a lifelong experience and if you want to be able to discuss intelligently subjects that you learned in school then you have to continue learning it. People can talk at length about sports because they follow sports. People can talk at length about politics because they follow politics. It has little to do with what they learned in school when they were 15 or 18.

Using the phrase, “What They Didn’t Teach You in School” belittles the education that our students do receive. There are many problems in education at the moment but students are learning to read, write, and to solve math problems. They are learning to discern opinion from fact, how to use research resources, and how to formulate their opinions.

The amount of learning and the amount of knowledge that students gain every single day is astounding and is simultaneously stripped away when people try to point out how stupid adults are. You don’t know about Macbeth because you don’t continue to read Shakespeare not because your teacher didn’t try.

And no, we shouldn’t be teaching how to file taxes in school. You won’t remember how to do it anyway.

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