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School Subjects: What's the Point?

posted Nov 19, 2014, 2:14 PM by Kialynne Bland   [ updated Nov 20, 2014, 9:47 AM ]
KiaLynne Bland

    Students, whether it be here at Van Buren High School or 3,000 miles away, have come together to share their opinions on social media websites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Tumblr. Gaining the most attention from teenagers is one of the most talked about topics in the world: education.

Most high schools require their students to take 4 years of math, 4 years English, 3 years of history, and 3 years of science, the main common core classes. However, most students believe what they’re learning in the required courses is most likely not going to be used in the real world. This has caused many teenagers to post endless rants about how useless it is to take the required classes, and to prove their point that learning “pointless material” only adds stress to their lives.

Many teenagers agree that instead of requiring a math or a science course, schools should require and offer a class that teaches students how to cook, write checks, and pay bills. But little do many students know that schools offer classes in which they can learn the necessary things they will need to do once they graduate high school. Political economics, A.P. government, and freshmen modern world history teacher, Mr. Obenour, says schools do offer classes such as home economics, which teaches checking, personal business, etc., but hardly any student has the time to take them. “Let’s say we have a nine period day, and you’re a freshman or a sophomore and you are required to be in class six or seven periods because you have your common classes that you have to take. That is only going to leave you one or two periods to do whatever,” states Obenour. “Unfortunately, we offer the classes; you just don’t have time to attend them.”

But even students who have the time to take a class like home economics are still left wondering how a class that teaches how to use the Pythagorean theorem, write a two-column proof, and learn how light reactions of photosynthesis relate to the Calvin Cycle can be used in real life situations. “I do agree that most of them (students) are not going to have to know how to do that (use formulas, equations, etc. on a daily basis),” says Mr. Rader, who teaches pre-calculus, senior advanced math, senior college review math, and Integrated Algebra I. “But I think just doing those math things makes you into a better thinker more than anything else. Maybe not the equations themselves or how to look at an equation of a line to know what the graph of it’s gonna look like. That’s not necessarily why you do all of the math. It’s to make your mind more logical.” Rader says just by working out problems and really thinking while working out problems helps you think more carefully, which Rader agrees is very important.

“It’s important for people to be well-rounded,” explains Mr. Vennekotter, who teaches American history, current events, and psychology. “If you think about a World War, you only knew the absolute minimum you needed to know. That would limit a lot of growth for us as a society.” Vennekotter believes the purpose for the subjects being taught in today’s schools is to help and teach teenagers to become more open-minded. “I think it’s hard to pinpoint that you’ll need to know about World War II in order to get this job. I can’t make that claim,” continues Vennekotter, “but I can say that without an overall knowledge of a lot of subjects like history, English, and the literature, in addition to the science and math that people look at a lot --- I think it’s just important for an overall understanding of the world and to be just a more well-rounded person.”

With all of the required courses to take, extracurricular activities to participate in, and tests to take, students have hit their breaking point when it comes to stress. Mrs. Long, A.P. calculus and geometry teacher, believes students are mainly stressed because of all the tests the standards require them to take. “It’s a lot of expectations for them (the students) right now with the new testing that’s coming about.” One of Long’s concerns is that the testing might be too much for students, with the possibility of them being over tested and overwhelmed.

Health and life time fitness teacher, Mrs. Archer, concludes that students who are the most stressed are the students involved in several extracurricular activities. “If you choose to play athletics or choir or band or get a job, you throw that into your day.” Though most teachers encourage students to get involved in after school activities, studies have shown that the more activities students take part in, the more stressed they will most likely become.

While high school can be exhausting, draining, and straining for most teenagers, it can teach them to become more reasoned, balanced, and broad-minded individuals.

Though some of the material being taught may not have practical usage for being taught, students can take what they learn from the subject and apply it out in the real world. “A lot of times, there’s applications of these things (school subjects) in real life, but you really don’t notice them,” says Long. “It’s not necessarily that you’re learning things just to use them in real life; it’s just to give you a good depth of knowledge. It’s never a bad thing to know too much information. It’s never a bad thing to be smarter than you need to be.”