Earth in space

The point of school isn’t, as hard as this may be to believe, for teachers to help you pass a few exams while making your life as miserable as possible. A school is a machine where you put in a child and get out an adult, more or less.

What this comes down to is that pretty much everything you do in school is supposed to be useful in ‘real life’ too.

Sometimes this is obvious; understanding stopping distances of cars (Science in KS3 and 4) should help you avoid being run over. You can’t work out how much tax you need to pay if you can’t do percentages. It’s pretty hard to order a pizza or a coffee in Paris if you’ve never studied French. And so on.

Sometimes it’s more subtle, and often subject to opinion. A lot of things are on the curriculum because they’re intended to prepare a small percentage of the school population for a future career. Others are there because they teach some of what you need to be an adult and a citizen. Sometimes, it’s about the process, rather than the product. But the idea is that everything is there for a reason, one way or another.

For students, the best way to make the most of this is to look for the relevance. You might not be fussed about reading classic novels; but the skills you pick up analyzing Macbeth might help you to make sense of complicated articles on something you do care about. Percentages are more interesting when you figure out how much you can save on the latest designer gadget by waiting for the sale. Paying attention in history opens up thousands of years of people fighting, killing, exploring and generally getting on each other’s nerves – which has since been immortalized on film and TV. Your mobile phone couldn’t possibly work without the designers understanding semiconductor physics, touch-sensitive materials, radio waves, battery efficiency and a bunch of other fields.

Your subjects are the starting point of many thousands of areas of study. Some of them will interest you more than others, but they all have consequences for the way we live our daily lives. Exploring some of those consequences will not only help you to see why the subjects matter, but will improve your understanding of the context. And that in turn will make it easier for you to get exam marks – which can’t be a bad thing.


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