The things I’m glad I learnt at school…

In discussion with a student today (I say discussion, I mean full blown hissy), I was informed that you never use anything you learn in school in “the real world”.

I first told the young person to step away from the air quotes, as any responsible adult would do. Nobody uses those in the real world.

Secondly, I began to list things in the last week that we had covered during lessons, that I actually use or have used in the real world…wherever that is.

I derailed the rant and got them back on track for heading into afternoon lessons, but it got me thinking about all the tidbits and scraps of information I got in my early teens that I still use today. Here are a few that stood out.

  • How to write a darn good complaints letter – This is a vital skill, that I didn’t know I needed until the 3rd year of Uni and a scummy landlord tried to keep all my deposit.
  • How to do percentages, fractions and how to budget – The bane of my life at school, but thank goodness, I can work out if the taxman is taking the right amount, and how much I can save and spend.
  • How to do algebra- I was shocking at maths, really surprised myself at GSCE by getting a B, but I loved algebra. It taught me that you can substitute something for something else, and it won’t completley end your world.
  • How to spell – I’m asked about 30 times a day how to spell something…and yes I have to write it in the air with an invisible finger pen, but I get it right every time.
  • What has gone on in the world – Without history, I honestly couldn’t hold a half decent conversation with anyone. My students often whinge about learning about ‘old stuff’, but then they are often glad when they can interject into a conversation about current events, relating it to historical ones. It’s all about breadth of knowledge. (And that isn’t knowing about sandwiches)
  • How to make mistakes (and be ok about it) – I say, ‘No probs, have another go’ at least 10 times a day. A lot of students feel that if they make a mistake, they are bad and stupid people. Not true. We must make mistakes in order to learn the right answer. I let the young people see me make mistakes, and also let them watch me laugh and shrug it off, and have another go.


What are you glad you learnt at school?


6 responses to “The things I’m glad I learnt at school…

  1. I agree with all the above, but I think also of prime importance is that the rest of the world does not necessarily share the views of your family; and how to hack it in the real world. It’s also where you first forge an identity that is to some extent of your own choosing and not perhaps the role allocated to you within your family. If you go to a school that’s not too streamed, you also get the opportunity to observe different social/economic/religious groups. It widens your horizons.

  2. Howdy,
    I think one of the main things about school is that you learn how to learn, if that sounds right. Every job I’ve had and lots of things I’ve done outside of work involve processing and evaluating information, getting hold of concepts and things like that. I can’t remember a lot from my degree, but I think I’m a lot brighter for doing it. However, I was trying to make that case with some of the kids from the club and I realise it’s a bit of a tough sell. I just attempt to confuse them with misdirection instead.

    • It is a tough sell, they think you are talking out of your behind most of the time.
      I relate EVERYTHING in lessons to the modern world and my own life, they are probably getting sick of hearing about me and my friends.
      I used P as an example today. His ability to get vital information from reports and emails so he can build his graphs, do a good job and get paid, is the same as them having to do english comprehension, finding vital information within a passage.
      Once they heard it could actually relate to a job, they knuckled on down.

  3. Brilliant post. I agree: school taught us necessary skills and important lessons that OF COURSE we use today. For me, I learned in school how to finish things and how to submit to authority. (Two things I don’t particularly LIKE, but they help make me a productive citizen!)

  4. Oh, I agree! I find it funny now, but I almost miss school!

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