I have been doing a drop of thinking.
Like most kids, I went to school in my younger years.
My first school was a convent run by very scary nuns. Fortunately that only lasted a couple of years, but the only thing I remember about those years was the constant repetition of our maths tables. That is one thing that was of enormous benefit later in life even if it did give me a lifelong terror of any person covered head to foot in black.
From the nuns I was promoted to the male version of God’s storm troopers – the De La Salle Brothers, where I learned that physical violence against small boys was perfectly acceptable.
Looking back, I suffered a range of subjects and the shocking thing is that I can remember little that was of any benefit to me in my adult life.
English: Endless essays, poetry and Shakespearian plays, most of which had to be learned off by heart. In my adult life I have never ever been called upon to recite Shakespeare, or indeed any poetry whatsoever. I did learn some of the basic rules of grammar which is possibly the only thing which was of benefit. The vast majority of my English learning came from incessant reading as I was a devoted book-worm, and still am.
Irish: More learning stuff by heart. None of it any fucking use apart from it being a requisite subject for employment in RTE.
French: This is a weird one. I hated French and failed every exam. The only thing of note was that the French brother was a raving homosexual but I didn’t learn anything from that either, thank God. However in later years I rediscovered that I must have picked something up as I was at least able to get a message across while holidaying in France. In hindsight it was hardly an essential subject if it merely helped me out while on holiday.
Latin: Fuck that. A total waste of time. All I learned there was that Caesar was fond of battles.
Maths: A lot of time was devoted to maths – Arithmetic, Geometry, Algebra and Calculus. I liked Geometry but that was it. I was quite good at the others too [bar Calculus] but again, I cannot find any use in later life for most of it. It comes in handy when measuring things but that’s about all.
Geography: I enjoyed Geography and in particular Geomorphology but again wonder what practical use it had in life. So I live in mountains which are made of granite, an igneous rock and which have been heavily glaciated. So?
Science: I enjoyed that. However, having learned that some things explode and others electrocute it was of little benefit. Maybe I do know why I get frostbite when I accidentally spray my hand with lighter gas, but hardly an essential piece of knowledge?
Religion: Roman Catholics are the only people who can ever get into Heaven, and most of them will end up in Hell anyway because the are sinners! Right.
The one thing I did get from school was my Leaving Certificate. Big deal. Even back then a Leaving Certificate was of little value when looking for a decent job. It was merely a passport into higher education. And when I competed that higher education, the stuff I learned there was stuff I never actually used in any of my later employments.
Looking back on those twelve or so years of unremitting torture and endless homework what exactly did I gain? Frankly I can think of very little. All the really important things in life such as dealing with banks, or how women work or how to bring up a daughter have all been earned by bitter [and in some cases not so bitter] experience. I’m a self taught adult.
Maybe if they had just sent me to the nuns to have my maths tables beaten [literally] into me and just let be run wild I would have been just as well off.
Makes you think?