Your most pointless subject at school was.....?

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Your most pointless subject at school was.....?

Postby RapidAssistant » Wed Aug 20, 2014 9:54 am

I've kinda touched on this one in other threads, but as I'm 20 years out of school now, and I'm seeing my stepdaughter go through the nightmare of Highers at the moment I find myself more embittered at the educational system than I probably was when I was 15-16. Anyway - from your current perspective, what was your biggest waste of time at school and why?

No cop-outs like "school in general" or your teenage romantic interests please, I mean subjects. I'll start as always.

For me it was Higher English. Why oh why, did the system force us to endure this torture. Sorry kids its compulsory. Made to read novels that sent us to sleep in the first five pages, then be expected to write a critique on it (the dreaded RPR - Review of Personal Reading). Having to read and understand Shakespeare, Keats and Milton and sit exams on said subjects. I can remember it all taking up a disproportionate amount of my time from the Highers that I actually NEEDED for my chosen career (Maths, Physics and Technology)......I still bear the scars.

Sorry to insult any present or former English teachers who may be HG members, but it's just my opinion.
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Re: Your most pointless subject at school was.....?

Postby banjo » Wed Aug 20, 2014 10:10 am

fencing...........no seriously.
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Re: Your most pointless subject at school was.....?

Postby Sharon » Wed Aug 20, 2014 10:14 am

Well RA English is all about interpretation and analytical thinking isn't it :) You sound like you have my dads take on studying English...he just shakes his head in bewilderment at the point of poetry and novels! Whereas I loved English and got alot out of it and probably still do with the learned skills.

I'm musing on what I thought was a waste of time; maybe home economics in the early years of high school, I have used no skills learned there at all :D

I actually think pretty much everything studied has been of some use at some point, even if not completely practically. More in a general understanding of everything.
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Re: Your most pointless subject at school was.....?

Postby Lawman » Wed Aug 20, 2014 10:44 am

I was thinking about this the other day!

Completely agree with Higher English. How can they mark you on your interpretation on someone's work after they have been in the ground for 50+ years? Who knows exactly what they meant? Dig them up and ask what the writer's feelings at the time were, other than that, my plausible interpretation is just fine thanks. It's not like Maths or Science where there is a correct answer, but they still want one! ::):
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Re: Your most pointless subject at school was.....?

Postby Sharon » Wed Aug 20, 2014 11:38 am

But... ignoring the marking part of English, learning that there might be more than one level of meaning, and you become aware that that's a thing you can look for, so you look deeper and consider what is being presented to you. To learn how to set out an argument - which is what you are doing in interpretation; also an important skill. You will use these skills all the time, even if you don't have any recollection of what the books were about, or just read the relevant bits in order to pass an exam.

I am a fan of English as a subject (as you might be able to tell) and absolutely think it should always be compulsory!

The subject I have had least use of is chemistry... but I still don't necessarily think it was completely pointless to study it. Awful teacher too, so utterly dull.
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Re: Your most pointless subject at school was.....?

Postby RapidAssistant » Wed Aug 20, 2014 12:46 pm

Lawman wrote:I was thinking about this the other day!

Completely agree with Higher English. How can they mark you on your interpretation on someone's work after they have been in the ground for 50+ years? Who knows exactly what they meant? Dig them up and ask what the writer's feelings at the time were, other than that, my plausible interpretation is just fine thanks. It's not like Maths or Science where there is a correct answer, but they still want one! ::):


Well I came to this conclusion after reflecting on all 6 of my Highers (as I said, only Maths/Physics/Technology were relevant to my University degree, and still serve me in my current career), History and Chemistry were my others, but those were discretionary whereas English was compulsory.

I suppose I carry a bee in my bunnet because when I taught first year Engineering students at Strathclyde University (95% of which were Scottish and therefore had to do Higher English whether they liked it or not, and get at least a B as part of the general entrance requirements), the standards of written and verbal communication were generally pretty poor. The art of basic technical writing and even grammar and spelling was pretty shocking, yet this is what industry and the workplace largely demands. How studying the literary arts achieves this still escapes me.
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Re: Your most pointless subject at school was.....?

Postby Delmont St Xavier » Wed Aug 20, 2014 7:25 pm

Some would add the language of the God's, Latin to this debate but the subjects that done it for me was Geography, Biology, Chemistry and Physics - I hated the sciences (how I so wish I hadn't) and Mathematics was up there too but then I put my intense dislike down to the fact that I struggled with the basics of each of these subjects.

I still believe I struggled because no teacher at that time bothered with 'struggling students' they were only interested in the 'bright sparks' and so folks like me were left behind. It's only nowadays that I have a sympathy for some of the sciences but I wouldn't hold my breath on taking them up and studying them again!
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Re: Your most pointless subject at school was.....?

Postby Grahame » Wed Aug 20, 2014 8:19 pm

For me, probably chemistry and Higher maths. Although chemistry was fun at times when you got to blow things up, I can't say it's been much use to me in adult life. As for advanced maths - I wouldn't know what to do with a quadratic equation these days if it came up and bit me in the proverbials.
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Re: Your most pointless subject at school was.....?

Postby HelenD » Wed Aug 20, 2014 9:16 pm

Religious Studies. Not much use to an atheist. Also, Carpentry. Dad was a carpenter, so I'd learned plenty by the time I was shown the basics all over again.
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Re: Your most pointless subject at school was.....?

Postby clarkfield » Wed Aug 20, 2014 10:07 pm

Algebra - or is that giving my age away?

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Re: Your most pointless subject at school was.....?

Postby RapidAssistant » Thu Aug 21, 2014 9:03 am

I knew the "A" word (ie Algebra) would inevitably raise its ugly head in this discussion. For the high fliers sure, with aspirations to go to Uni and study science or engineering, indeed you won't survive a Physics degree course without being proficient at it.....but for those who don't want to be the next Stephen Hawking it's pretty useless. Far better to teach people practical numeracy skills used in everyday life - like understanding how compound interest works for example, accounting, etc - the kind of skills that if practiced more widely by Joe Public would help prevent over-indebtedness for example.

Even though I am in engineering/building design background in the real world we use computer aided design tools to do all the calculations ourselves, and simply pull the formulae out of books if you are really stuck. No need to faff about with dee why by dee ex and all that rubbish.
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Re: Your most pointless subject at school was.....?

Postby Delmont St Xavier » Thu Aug 21, 2014 9:36 pm

HelenD wrote:Religious Studies. Not much use to an atheist. Also, Carpentry. Dad was a carpenter, so I'd learned plenty by the time I was shown the basics all over again.


I enjoyed Religious Studies and Modern Studies too but I excelled at Art in those days, now I can hardly draw a breathe...
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Re: Your most pointless subject at school was.....?

Postby InkMan » Fri Aug 22, 2014 11:22 am

Social Dancing is the one for me. Though enjoyable in the correct context having all PE lessons replaced between the ages of twelve and fifteen to awkwardly stumble the Gay Gordon is seared into my mind. I can easily talk to a group of a couple of hundred people but still hate dancing; even though I enjoy it.

Still; seeing as what even the "good" staff at Trinity High School chose to ignore I can count myself lucky that having a hang up about dancing is all I have to grump about.
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Re: Your most pointless subject at school was.....?

Postby hambone » Fri Aug 22, 2014 8:11 pm

definitely algebra ,,,could not get my heid around it at all,,,then Binary numbers ditto ,, :?: :?: :?:
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Re: Your most pointless subject at school was.....?

Postby RDR » Sat Aug 23, 2014 8:11 am

What was most pointless to me was the system that was in use at the time (I'm 40 years out of school), the junior and senior secondary one. It was nice to be told at 2nd year, effectively you were stupid and thrown on the scrap heap, and barred from certain subjects totally. The focus was on 'technical' subjects, didn't matter you were totally useless at metalwork or woodwork and would have actually liked to do history or English. The best you should aim for was an apprenticeship - boy!
Allied that to teachers who couldn't give a toss, who liked to remind you every day that you were thick or useless and like someone else further up this thread says they were only interested in the bright 'sparks' not in trying to develop potential and a system which didn't bother about discrimination in the slightest.
Am I bitter? :x You bet I am. So having seen all three of my daughters through the system, now, despite its flaws its still 100% better.
Eventually, I did it the hard way, work, night school, college, university and professional qualifications, so the potential was in me and I got to prove them wrong...but how many were there who could have done so much better??
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