Why Do I Have to Know This?

I’ve been tutoring for a while now. Before coming to the Study Hut, I
worked as a private tutor and substitute teacher in New Jersey for
about 4 years. During that time, there was one question I was asked
over and over again. It had nothing to do with sines or cosines. It
had no relation to bicameral legislature. And it bared no resemblance
to anything in chemistry. The question was a simple one: WHY DO I HAVE

And parents, let’s be fair; we’ve ALL asked this in the past. We’ve
all experience the study session where we have to answer 14 questions
relating to alternate interior angles, and we couldn’t think of a
single instance when we’d use the information in real life. We were
usually given the same excuses as well:

-“Maybe you’ll have a job with a lot of math.”

-“You’ll need to know it to get into college.”

-“You need to know it because it’s ON THE TEST.”

-“Because I said so.”

All valid. All true. But none of these speak to the average Manhattan
Beach student. And, let’s face it, how often DO you use trigonometry
and chemistry in your real life? (Engineers and doctors, put your
hands down, I was being rhetorical.)

This is how I try to explain the value of education to my students:

When you go to the gym, you do pushups. Are you doing this because of
how often you push yourself up in real life? No. You do it because it
trains your body, and allows it to do other physical activities when
you need to. It makes your body strong. And to get strong, your body
needs to do a variety of exercises. Just doing pushups wont cut it.

It’s the same thing with your mind. You’re not going through Trig and
Chem and Bio and History because of how often you’ll use them in real
life. You’re taking these classes in order to TRAIN YOUR MIND HOW TO
THINK. You’re making your mind strong, so that, later in life, it will
be ready for when you really need it. By studying so many different
subjects, you’re practicing the fine arts of thinking analytically and
critically, which is beyond important in any career.

Plus, memorizing the state capitals is a great trick at parties.

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