There is always that one kid in class, who deems it essential to ask the eminent question: When are we ever going to use this? It seems as if this question is perpetuated by the extensive amount of work teachers hand out. This makes kids weary, increasing the eternal languor that plagues students, and forces them to ask, is all this really necessary. The equations, the vocabulary, the correct grammar adds up resembling an equation that has no solution, or remains undefined. It is tiresome and the idea of only learning what is crucial for the future becomes attractive.

For those who know what their future looks like, the question might single out a single subject. Future engineers ask why they need to know the difference between a dependent and independent clause and future authors might question when they will ever have to understand the effects of radiation on the body. However, today’s engineers write papers and tomorrow’s authors will embed allusions to the cell cycle. Some subjects feel more applicable to you than others. However, math can be used daily, when trying to figure out how much to tip your waiter. It is used when Google Maps calculates how much time it will take for you to get to Denver while driving on the highway at seventy miles per hour. These examples are typical; the ones that teachers are quick to retort with. But these simpler math problems, are becoming eradicated with the advancement of technology. Technology can be helpful in everyday aspects, but there’s no more motivation to learn because technology has become exceedingly capable.

In proposing this question, students are referring to content, when half of the learning is the skills. Teachers tend to address the question as a matter of content, because it is specific to the lesson of the day. But how long would it take to learn these skills? Is the excess content of integrals and volume formulas necessary to learn these skills? What students don’t realize is while learning this content, they are doing other things, unnoticed. Students learn about managing their time or learning the consequences of not doing their homework that is due next class period. This leads to discovering more about themselves and how much practice they will need to learn the content. All of which is essential in college, when learning becomes more individual. Now students are making little mistakes in the process of engrossing themselves in content. All these mistakes are contributing to self improvement, and the creation of these skills.

There was an age in time when specialization was more prominent. The era of blacksmiths, whose formal education extended to apprenticeships limited studies to a particular field that students were planning on pursuing in the future. Excluding other subjects will revert us to this period of time where the Code of Hammurabi decreed that artisans pass down their skills to their youth. In this, there is obviously less freedom of choice, but today there is no lawful code requiring the passing down of skills. Only concentrating on a single subject can be dreadful if the so- called modern day apprentice does not agree with the subject. The exploration of this is crucial, but so is the intertwining of subjects. These types of isolations hinder people from larger abilities. Benjamin Franklin began training for a career in printing, but he severed his ties with printing and began to buy books, read books and fall in love with them. He quit and became a major influence in the foundations of American government.

Next time you hear a “When am I ever going to use this?” think of all opportunity and exploration that a combination of subjects provides you with. Knowledge is power and the more  you can get the more you have to gain. All of these subjects are leading to the culmination of a more aware you, not pertaining to a particular subject, but pertaining to everything that is out there readily available for you to discover.

By Jaci Stickrod

Photo by Jaci Stickrod

Photo by Jaci Stickrod