You probably have seen the: “Things I never learned in high school” posting; it list several items that one allegedly did not learn in high school like “doing my taxes”; and ends with: “But thank my luck stars I can tell you all about the Pythagorean theorems” A skill a true star searcher (astrophysicist) might appreciate; but let me not get ahead of myself.
I have seen this item float around on social media for a while; but I think that the fact it is posted by people who are very smart, points to its importance as a measure of something very serious, and very deep. I actually think that the underlying theme here is anti-education, and anti-professional educator (but I will leave that alone for now). I would actually like to challenge these detractors to divide the USA into people who know (or who are even vaguely aware of) the Pythagorean theory, and those who never heard of it; and let us see the relative difference in the GNP of the two groups. This is the other reason I am concerned about certain groups adopting this belief system (even as a joke), for we know in education that algebra is the serious gate-keeper for advance STEM learning and careers.
It also points to a lack of understanding on the part of segments of our society as to the sequential and prerequisite building nature of concepts and skills that exist in formal education; and further how we construct knowledge in our brains. We didn’t learn calculus in the 3rd grade, but the mathematical algorithms and concepts that allow us to do calculus were necessarily learned there (that is why we often struggled with students doing high school math because of the many “holes” in their k-8 learning experience.) And needless to say, if you are struggling with inadequate elementary reading skills; every high school subject is a problem.
We could probably name thousands of things we did not learn in a finite high school (what kind of lousy school could teach you everything you ever needed to know in life!); in fact I am still learning things that I did not learn in high school; because I learned the requisite skills that allow me to learn; and (most important) I also learned how to be a learner. I for one am forever grateful for my teachers and k-12 education; everything I enjoy, what I am able to do, the way I live, the fact that I have been able to help others is a blessing of my K-12 education.
And so now (one of my hobbies), I am planting trees; but then I never learned to plant trees in high school; but I can read the instructions from the state agriculture department, and I did take biology, and so I understand the parts of the tree, I did take chemistry and so I understand all of the pH soil testing stuff; and I can read a calendar, count and measure, and so I can get that planting time-table-watering part right. Oh, I almost forgot I bought the tree and the land to plant it on, because I attended high school, which allowed me to go to college, and then to get a job. Man, am I glad I went to high school!