Subjects in School

Ok, I don’t usually get mad when I read articles from school papers that really have no hope of accomplishing anything but expressing some random student’s opinion, but this one actually did piss me off. Ok, first of all, Miss Stacey Perk doesn’t get off to a good start by talking about how great high school was with parties and football games. Um… most people don’t remember high school as being great for those things (or if they do, it’s in a “childhood is a perfect time of innocence” kind of way). But that isn’t really the point. She quickly gets beyond that to what she really wants to do – which is whine about having to learn things.

Ok, I agree that college students have to take too many random classes that are totally unrelated to their major at most liberal arts colleges (which is most colleges these days). However, I don’t believe that standard applies to high school so much (sorry, Math should totally be a required subject in high school). And saying that most people will never use those skills again when they are out in the real world is totally clueless! First of all, you are a junior in college! You aren’t in the real world yet! Hell, I’m 24, out of college and barely consider myself to be in the real world! Second of all, your examples are kinda clueless. Math and history, in particular are going to be used a lot by most people, even if they don’t always realize it. Even chemistry is important! I agree that you probably aren’t likely to pull out that periodic table again, but that doesn’t mean that basic chemistry isn’t important.

Ok, math is probably the most obvious one. You use it everywhere. It’s important for cooking, shopping, paying bills, doing laundry, making a phone call, driving a car, even clocking in at work! And not all of that is basic arithmetic. You use algebra every day without even thinking about it! Most people won’t use advenced calculus on an average day, but algebra is really important.

The biggest thing I use chemistry for on an average day is cooking, even just basic stuff. When you decide to put salt on something, you are making a decision based on chemistry, even if you don’t realize it. Makeup and hair products and knowing which ones to choose is all about chemistry!

History is important for everything. It’s important for evaluating news stories, opinions about all manner of topics and making decisions about everything from what store to shop from (do they support unions? why is that important?) to choosing who to vote for!

Miss Perk wants to be a journalist. Well, clearly that’s different. She will never need math… except when making deadlines and thinking about the space an article needs to fit in and… ok, she probably needs somr math. But chemistry will never be important… unless a story she is writing about has any basis in chemistry (a story about food, medicine, scientific discovery, etc.)… ok, but that doesn’t happen often, right? But history will prove totally useless to her, right? I mean, why would she want to know what happened in the past that led up to what she is writing about today? Why would she want to know how to look up what other people have said in the past or how other reporters covered a subject? She’ll certainly never need to do any fact checking.

She spends some time discussing how all those “useless” classes presented a hardship to her by dragging down her GPA because she never went to class or did her homework for them. Well, maybe some math would have shown her in advance how blowing off a class and getting a low grade in it would affect her GPA.

I’m sorry Stacey, but I read magazines like “Glamour” all the time (I work in a bookstore, how else do you kill a fifteen minute break?) and they are full of math and history and chemestry. Statistics are in nearly every article. As a journalist, I think you will find that a wide understanding of other subjects might be useful. Knowing about the inverted pyramid will help you with mechanics, but no one reads an article because of the mechanics, they read it for the content. And if when I read your article I get the impression that you don’t really understand what you are writing about, even though the subject is interesting, I’m going to go find a better article on the subject.

So maybe those subjects are a little more important than you thought.

Sorry for the rant, but poorly written and thought out articles like this one really annoy me, especially when written by someone who isn’t even in a position to make a value judgement that means anything on what they are expressing value judgements about! I wouldn’t want a single man with no kids writing about the hardships of motherhood either. At least not without some damn good sources who do understand it! There is no excuse for articles like this one and even though it’s just a student paper, The Daily Iowan should have higher standards for what they publish.

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