By Kevin Holton–
I don’t think I’ve ever sat through a day of high school without hearing someone mumble to themselves, “When are we ever going to use this in real life?”
It might even have been me that said it numerous times. Well, you’re right, many people aren’t going to ever care about quadratic equations or figuring out when a train leaving Chicago at 1261 mph will meet up with a train coming from Los Angeles traveling 932 mph. But I discovered that is not exactly the point of coming to school.
Over the years I’ve learned that it’s not about being a genius and knowing or remembering all the information you are taught but it is about being challenged to push your brain to levels it wouldn’t normally go in order to achieve and develop the power to solve problems of higher difficulty.
Being a young kid in the middle of my high school career, I acted the same as any teenager my age would act with my dark shaggy hair flopped over one eye, conducting pointless text messaging under my desk, my tight jeans sagging below my butt, telling myself this is ridiculous – I’m never going to be a scientist or an archeologist or even a mathematician. I probably will never even be on a train leaving Chicago.
Then one of my teachers during my sophomore year told my class, “It’s not about being able to use this when you grow up, it’s about developing your brain and being able to solve complex problems.”
I thought to myself, ‘I’m no Einstein, but that sure sounds like the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.’
Yet I couldn’t get those words out of my head. What if that teacher was right?
And then it hit me like a kid on a bike caught in a hail storm. The calculus teachers know that the majority of their students will never use trigonometric functions outside of the classroom. The English teachers know you will not always remember how Lenny killed the puppy in Of Mice and Men. The science teacher knows more than likely you won’t have to remember the empirical formula or the molecular formula to identify different types or elements in an atom. And yes, the history teachers know you probably will never have to remember that Ulysses S. Grant was inaugurated as the 18th president.
They already know that’s not the point of being in school.
I began to realize and believe that the main reason teachers make us solve annoying atomic mass problems and write ridiculous 10-page Anne Frank research papers is not so you become the next Leonardo De Vinci, but so you expand your horizons and obtain the ability to overcome and figure out tough problems that make the real world just a little bit easier.
So all those hours spent in that lousy English class weren’t exactly a waste. Yeah, you may never again have to give a speech about Shakespeare, which you stayed up until 2 a.m. writing, but when you have to give a nerve-racking job interview in front of a potential boss, you won’t be sweating bullets and peeing yourself, hopefully.
How about taking out a loan to buy that fancy new sports car or a down payment for a house. You need to be able to manage your money and be able to pay a certain interest percentage each month while most likely also holding a job and worrying about the gas money you need to save for that new car. So, stop complaining about having so many classes and whining about all the homework because it’s only preparing you for the real world.
And how about the social lessons you are forced to learn in school?
Getting stuck with a group of weird-looking kids that I have no association with has always been one of my worst fears, especially in gym class. You are forced to get along with that purple haired so called “loser” with the 4-inch gauges in his ears that look like onion rings. But, in all reality, no matter where you go with your life or what career you pursue, you’re going to be around all kinds of different people and you will have to get along and make things work – even with creepy looking people who appear as if they just came out of jail or are living in a box in an alley. For all I know, my “loser” in gym class may not of wanted to be on the same team with the “lazy kid” who couldn’t stop staring at his ears.
Next time you’re siting in that grueling economics class or that nerve-wracking algebra course, take a second look at the main reason you were forced to be there. Instead of saying to yourself, “there is no point in doing this” just think to yourself “what is the actual point in doing this?”
You’ll be surprised with some of the things you come up with. I know I sure was.