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life skills

Photo by Sam Balye on Unsplash

Why aren't we teaching students the things they really need to know as adults?

This article originally appeared on 03.25.22


I remember sitting in advanced algebra and trigonometry class in high school wondering if I was really ever going to use any of what I was learning. Math at that level meant nothing to me in a practical sense. I planned to study English and education to become an English teacher, so I couldn't imagine why I'd need to learn the ins and outs of trig.

As it turned out, some of what I learned came in handy in the functions class I was required to take to fulfill my math requirement in college. But again, I found myself sitting in class with zero idea of why I was learning this level of math and suspecting that I was never going to actually use that knowledge in my adult life.

Now I'm a middle-aged adult and I can say with absolute certainty that I was right. In 27 years, I have not used anything I learned in functions. Not once. Not even a little bit. I agonized my way through that class to eek out a B-minus and to promptly forget everything I'd learned because it was utterly useless to me.

To be clear, higher math isn't useless—it's amazing. It was just completely useless to me.

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