Yes, you will use this in the real world

Each subject has its own unique characteristics, but they all seem to be plagued by at least one kid who will groan at the end of class and ask “When will we ever use this in the real world?”

They have a point in some respects. While I’ve never had to do a worksheet in “the real world,”, I have used many of the skills I’ve learned outside of school.

One, for example, is literary analysis. A lot of people just see it as useless and confusing, making jokes about how English teachers always read far too into the text, but it’s essential to learn because it teaches people to think outside of the box. From stories, we can learn to not take things at face value, and I think that’s something that can be applied in many different situations.

Another subject I often find people dismissing as useless is math. The higher the level of work, the less applicable it seems. Math teaches you to see a problem, analyze it, use previously learned skills, and keep trying until you find a solution, essentially teaching you how to think. Social studies teaches you to assess the causes and effects of events in this world, while also teaching you how our world works and why it’s that way. Plus, you learn past mistakes and why you shouldn’t repeat them.

I think we should just widen our view of “usefulness”. It’s not black and white. When you look at things through

the lense of “anything I won’t directly use in the real world is useless,” then yes, a lot of things we learn in school are useless. But what about people who play a sport or participate in a club? No one is going to ask them to make a layup or recite a monologue in the “real world”. So why do they even bother? If the skill isn’t going to be directly translated into a skill we use later in life, what’s the point? Anyone who participates in any activity can point out the flaws in this thinking. Just because you won’t have to use these skills in the future doesn’t mean that they’re unimportant. For a lot of people, extracurricular activities make them happy, keep them healthy, or help them express themselves. These are all totally valid reasons to do something.

Writing document based essays isn’t as fun to most people as football or theater, but the subjective meaning of usefulness still applies. Sometimes people need to just step back and look at things from a different perspective.