What is the most important subject taught in school?

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by Kadark, Dec 22, 2007.


Which is most important?

  1. Mathematics

  2. English

  3. Biology

  4. Chemistry

    0 vote(s)
  5. Physics

  6. History

  7. Social/Global Studies

  8. Economics

    0 vote(s)
  9. Physical Education/Gymnastics

    0 vote(s)
  10. Career and Life Management

  11. Philosophy

  12. Law

    0 vote(s)
  13. Geography

    0 vote(s)
  14. Geology

    0 vote(s)
  15. Software/Computer Courses

  16. All subjects are equally important

  17. Other (specified in thread)

  1. Enmos Valued Senior Member


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    Informal. a person, regarded as reflecting or typifying a certain line of work, environment, etc.: a couple of civil service types.
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  5. USS Exeter unamerican american Registered Senior Member

    Because love is all you need.
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  7. kikuchi Registered Member

    I vote for English with emphasis on reading and writing (and mechanics) instead of on literature. Not having any appreciation for Shakespeare won't hurt you in the long run, but not knowing how to read and write will.

    And if this was an ideal world, we don't need no English classes after fifth grade.
  8. Norsefire Salam Shalom Salom Registered Senior Member

    From what I remember about school, almost all of them are useless. Well, to a certain extent. A good level of each is certainly wonderful, but there comes a point in which, unless it's your major, that knowledge is useless. What would a kid who wants to be an astronaut, say, do with the knowledge of a frog's innards?


    Of all, the most important are:

    Science- to an extent
    English (or whatever language)- to an extent
    Mathematics- High School Level

    History- indefinite
    Civics- indefinite
    Politics and Geography- indefinite
    Business and Engineering- indefinite

    Indefinite means it is useful throughout your life, whereas for some fields, science will only do you so much.

    Assuming you want a business or political career, the above are minimum requirements IMO
  9. Norsefire Salam Shalom Salom Registered Senior Member

    However, another issue is the method of schooling, which is absolutely horrible. Open up Military Schools, I say.

    It would discipline, train, and educate children much better than your average school.
  10. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member


    I agree. At least in an English-dominant nation, your facility with English comes up in every job from time to time and impacts your every relationship with other English speakers in the society. Many times I have seen a cute a girl and started up a conversation. Never have a I seen a cute girl and impressed her with mathematics.

    Math (which I tend to think of being something more than "arithmetic", but can include arithmetic for these purposes) teaches everyone a certain way of thinking logically that can be a great asset, but everyone judges you based on how you speak, not as many on the basis of math skills.

    No one subject is the end all-be all, but if I had to rank them, I'd place English first.
  11. Chatha big brown was screwed up Registered Senior Member

    Well its obvously going to be the elementary ones, the ones you did in Kindergarten while you were picking your nose, since the question says "which one do we use throughout?". So its going to be stuff like reading, drawing and painting, e.t.c. You may laugh now but back then I had trouble with Kindergarten, I had more trouble then than I do now, I just didn't know why they had to waste my time by dragging me in with those annoying smelly little kids (Yes, they all smell, except me). I'd say elementary reading and comprehension (or in any other langusge) is the most useful subject in School. Without it we can't easily comprehend most things, it involves reading a passage and reciting what the hell the author is talking about or what some fictional character is thinking. We use it in many facets, and I think educators would even agree, we use it in history, calculus word problems, physics word problems, mathematics, civilization of village of the dwalves, e.t.c. Experts do agree that those who read frequently often do better in life and school. Plus, of cause, everybody knows that those times of our lives have some of the sweetest memories
  12. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    But being able to understand what Shakespeare is telling you about your world will indeed help you navigate through life. Not because people talk like Shakespeare but because Shakespeare wrote about archetypes and universal truths. How often do we use references just to the general storylines of Hamlet, Macbeth, or Romeo and Juliet? The details of these plots run even deeper and are timeless--that's what archetypes are all about. As one who in fact never learned to read at this level, because the adults in my life were too busy making sure I was overdosing on science and math so I could help beat those dadgum Rooskies in the Cold War (welcome to high school in the Sputnik Era), I'm constantly tripping over life and having my wife, with her M.A. in English, point out that I just did the same stupid thing that some character did in King Lear.

    You don't have to read Shakespeare specifically, especially if you can't read it in the original English. But you need to do something, as a youngster, that gives you the skill to understand people and what they do. Reading and discussing the literature that has passed the test of time is one way to get it.
    As I've said many times, if this were an ideal world we'd all be speaking Chinese, which is a far superior language for changing times. Of course it's hell to read but if it were our language we'd damn well fix that.
    Remember that science is in essence the thesis that the natural universe is a closed system that can be understood and predicted by deriving theories logically from empirical observations of its behavior. Each science teaches you certain techniques of empiricism, observation, logic and theorization. Physics is heavy on logic, chemistry on following a sequence of steps, engineering on measurement... and biology on observation. If you can take a frog apart and see how all the components fit together and how they operate in harmony, that helps you develop the skill to do the same thing when your rocket ship inexplicably stops running and you have to figure out why. Sure you can do the same thing with a carburetor or a food processor, but natural systems give you something that artifacts don't: everything isn't arranged neatly and efficiently but it still works.
    I agree that American schools may have gone a teeny weeny bit too far in the direction of chaos and letting kids "do their own thing." That's just the famous American Pendulum Swing, the way our culture deals with the world. (E.g., pants buttoned around your neck in the 1950s, sex in the streets in the 1970s; you can't get a job in 1955 because you're not white or don't have a penis, and you can't get one in 2005 because you are and do.) The answer is not to swing the pendulum all the way in the other direction to the stifling atmosphere of a military environment. Children need to grow up to be more creative, more iconoclastic, more skeptical of authority than they were growing up to be fifty years ago, and military schools are not noted for delivering that kind of graduate.
    But you'll sure impress the smart ones. Believe me, that cute girl will look like your mom after you've been married to her for twenty or thirty years, but the smart girl will be even smarter.
    As the Head Linguist around here that's music to my ears. Language is one of the earliest technologies we developed, and it's the one that distinctly elevated us above the other animals. We have unprecedented abilities to communicate, to plan and organize, to share information with people who are widely separated from us by time and space. This is the key technology that an adult must have mastered in order to take his place in civilization.
  13. Orleander OH JOY!!!! Valued Senior Member

    I went to country school. I did my work while the teacher taught the upper grades. By the time I got to the upper grades, I already knew it from watching. I also got to pick the books I wanted to read (Stranger in a Strange Land, not such a good choice. Grapes of Wrath, good choice). I also sat in the same room with my brothers and sister, so any acting up, got told on.
  14. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    I thought of another subject that would work in well with either Jr High or Senior Hi schools. Funeral Directors. That way the children would be taught what happens when they die so that they just might be more damn carefull when they are alive!

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  15. Norsefire Salam Shalom Salom Registered Senior Member

    And precisely why I noted Engineering. Knowledge will become useless after an extent, because it is simply not practical.

    A military environment is a wonderful one for a child to grow up in.
    How, you ask? It disciplines them, teaches them respect and honor, and raises them to be tough men. That's what's important for children.

    You look at the average environment in American schools today, and it is horrid. Children can have no respect, they are never serious, they are obese (well, alot of them are), but worst of all immature.

    A brutal, fitting military schooling regime would be ideal to change all of this.

    Case in point, Sparta. That type of schooling is ideal.
  16. Norsefire Salam Shalom Salom Registered Senior Member

    Yes, it'd be hard, but it'd teach them respect, responsibility, maturity, and quite well keep them fit!
  17. sowhatifit'sdark Valued Senior Member

    The subject is implicit and we 'use' it all the time, unfortunately. Here are some of the lessons:

    Learning is passive.
    Others should decide what you should know.
    Learning does not involve the body.
    Learning is taking in information and adding it like text to a file.
    Subjects do not overlap.
    Creativity should be restricted to very limited areas and times.
    Trust experts.
    Do not work towards new information with your peers.
    Repeating information is knowledge.
    Interest should not be a primary factor in what you learn.
    Autonomy destroys learning.
    Democracy is not something that needs to be learned except as a fact.
    Power dynamics should be accepted as they are.
    Propaganda is fine with children.

    And so on.

    This 'subject' is taught via the form of most educational institutions for children.

    Oddly we expect creative, independent thinking citizens of a democratic society to suddenly appear at 18.
  18. sowhatifit'sdark Valued Senior Member

    Yes, let's train children to be used to and expect society to be run like dictatorial organizations with rigid hierarchies and no respect for the individual. That will make make for great citizens in a democratic society.
  19. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Wait... aren't you the new kid

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    who a few months ago was lamenting the fact that your education wasn't what it should be, that there were whole libraries full of stuff you didn't know? At least you know how to learn: you spend an awful lot of time here.

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    And hey, Stranger in a Strange Land is a wonderful story. There are a lot of sci-fi books that qualify (or almost qualify) as "great literature" and that's one. Others include Dune by Frank Herbert, Midworld by Alan Dean Foster, Code of the Lifemaker by James P. Hogan and Dragon's Egg by Robert L. Forward. My wife covered Midworld for a class in her master's program. Traditionalists scoff at sci-fi because it concentrates more on the milieu and less on the characters, but that's the way it works.
    Another good one is physical therapy, which is already a good profession. The Baby Boomers are not going to yield easily to the constraints of old age.
    I think pride would be better than honor. Honor needs to be taught carefully and it often is not. Some of the most evil deeds are done to protect the "honor" of the perp, his family or, in the worst case, his country. E.g., the overthrow and destabilization of the government of the only secular, pro-Western Muslim nation in the Mideast to settle a family feud.
    Thank you for unconsciously pointing out the biggest problem with the military mindset: male chauvinism. There's nothing wrong with being physically fit and it's certainly become a big problem with today's style of "parenting by abdication." But "toughness," in a society that celebrates the masculine and denigrates the feminine, warps into aggressiveness, and often even into a primitive "us-versus-them" tribalism that works against the very process of civilization. E.g., the overthrow... oh wait I already noted that one.
    I see. You're being sarcastic. The word "Spartan" is now an insult and rightfully so. Despite being Hellenes, the Spartans lived in thatched huts in virtually Stone Age conditions, with the artifacts of civilization reserved for the government, which was a military theocracy with only faint stirrings of democracy and kept no written records. Male newborns who were not thought fit for military duty were left to die and the rest were sent to military camps at age seven--where they did not learn to read. Their rites of passage encouraged them to attack and rob foreigners and their society had no emphasis on education, the arts, and most of what we now recognize as "culture."

    On the plus side they must be given credit for women's rights. Since their men spent most of their time training for battle or fighting, they had more freedom than any other Greek women. They owned property, managed affairs, were educated as well as men--for whatever that was worth--and dressed as they pleased, including the freedom to attend festivals in the nude.
    I understand that it's a rite of passage for every child to rebel against these contstraints, but after all they do accommodate the biological reality that children are children. Their brains and endocrine systems only begin to approach full physical development in adolescence. Their emotions and judgment are simply not adequate for the task of choosing how best to prepare for adult life--a task which BTW is recursive, since one must already possess considerable understanding of the world before one can correctly decide what further understanding is needed to make one's way in it.

    I understand Toffler's criticism that much of what we elders teach is "obsoledge" because we have the luck to be living through the most accelerated Paradigm Shift in history. (The old Chinese curse: "May you live during interesting times.") But what we need to work on is our approach to education, doing a better job of figuring out what children are going to need to learn. Not abdicate and let twelve-year olds decide that it's more important to develop videogaming skills and learn rap lyrics than to know what rights the Constitution grants them or that Iraq is too far away to attack us.
  20. sowhatifit'sdark Valued Senior Member

    Being far to lazy to rewrite the whole progressive critique of education, I shoot for pithy.
    1) Children are fascinated by adults and extremely curious and, given the choice, often ask for advice, right through the process.
    2)There are schools that base their education on principles that contradict many of the the assertions I listed above. And yet they work. Also your critique could be used to justify a position anywhere from the military school pedagogy advocated by another poster and fairly (but not totally) radical education. I have seen little data to show that the current point on the spectrum held by most public and private schools nowadays is anywhere near the right point. Your argument could be used to keep it from sliding toward a (slightly to much) freer point that actually is the right one.
    3)I don't really know how we can know that the differences in children's brains and endocrine systems mean that they cannot step by step work their way towards learning what they need to learn even if they have much more power of choice than they do now. I am not suggesting we put them in a sealed environment away from adults or that they can control everything.
    4) The current system punishes everyone for the abuses of some %. There are certainly children who can be in charge of vastly more than others.

    Probably every kid in the US has 'learned' about the constitution. Fat lot of good it did us, them and the rest of the world. Perhaps if their interests were respected more they would in turn be more receptive to what we think is important.

    Geography was also foisted on most of us - a worthy subject but foisted and poorly taught - perhaps weak pedagogy and foisting are connected. Again despite having 'learned' geography people know very little in general. I doubt they would know less geography if we stopped teaching it in school.

    Rap lyrics, on the other hand, if listened to broadly certainly do give out information critical of the propaganda coming out of the White House.

    I contend that your ideas might be correct but I really doubt this can be proven. I also see no reason to believe the current system fosters citizens of a democracy. I think it should be obvious that if we treat them as creatures that cannot make choices, deny them the practice of making important choices, treat them as passive receivers of information, etc., we get what we deserve. People who take in information uncritically. Who learn that the choice they are supposed to be good at is between different brands. Who understand and have learned to navigate authoritarian institutions.

    Emphasis, authoritarian institutions. They are trained right now to be good at functioning in authoritarian institutions.

    How does this lead to being an effective citizen of a democracy?
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2007
  21. Kadark Banned Banned

    What makes Chinese superior to all other languages? Have you studied every language enough to make such an arbitrary decision? In my opinion, we'd all be speaking whatever language we wanted in an ideal world. It would be a crime to throw out every great language and substitute it for one. When you get rid of a language, then you get rid of the culture that comes along with it. I'm sure you know that language is an integral (and perhaps most important) tenet of each individual culture; making Chinese a (literally) universal language would slowly erode at unique and diverse cultures worldwide. Besides, if we all spoke Chinese, how could upcoming generations comprehend and appreciate some of the great works of literature circulating that aren't Chinese?
  22. Norsefire Salam Shalom Salom Registered Senior Member

    It's either that or a bunch of arrogant, ignorant and disrespectful, immature and obese brats.
  23. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

    I am starting to think that the most important class in elementary schools is a class that is not taught in elementary schools. Every elementary school should have a course in logic and reasoning. Hopefully it will make them better consumers of all this election ad junk that we are all imersed in whenever we go through an election cycle.

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