The most overrated school subject

The other reason we don't like 'science' as it is presented (which we were just discussing yesterday) is that the language is hard to write when your tendency is to be a creative writer. I find scientific writing almost completely boring and dull. It mitigates the concepts behind science which are often wonderful and exciting.
My experience of the HE community is that creative children vastly outnumber academic children.

We all have art & craft boxes stashed with goodies which can be put into action in the blink of an eye on a rainy day. But I bet there aren't many families with a similarly well-stocked science cupboard - go on delight me and tell me I'm wrong! Yet there are lots of science experiments and investigations that can be done at home, easily and cheaply, which are guaranteed to give kids a surprise or make them laugh or even wonder why.
The question is whether there is a lack of interest in purchasing scientific apparatus or whether there is a difficulty in purchasing it. My chemical supplier wrote to me after 9/11 saying that they are no longer willing to supply to private individuals or very small businesses.

It takes quite a large selection of equipment and chemicals to replicate the GCSE science practicals at home. Some HE children focus on particular areas of science for more formal study, such as astronomy or electronics, that has practical experiments which are more easily carried out at home. However, it can be difficult to take exams in science subjects outside of the school system and most further education science based courses want GCSEs in science subjects.

It's true science books can be heavy going with the seemingly impenetrable technical language, which would encourage many folk to steer a wide berth. Yet there are some terrific popular science writers around these days who make the facts a whole lot more digestible for kids and adults.
I dispute this as GCSE and KS2/3 science books are widely available and are not too difficult for the layman to understand. Popular science books vary in quality but several seem to venture into the realm of pseudoscience.
 
I think it is the idea of dividing the world into "subjects" in the first place which is overrated. And compressing things into books instead of doing them - let's read about farms. There's a farm down the road, why not let's GO to a farm?! And the decontextualisation of stuff which makes it hard for hard's sake. I was made to teach a class of 11-year-olds pronouns using a worksheet that stripped the sense from text and made them put in the correct pronoun, agreeing by number and gender. These were not children who had ever, ever struggled to work out when to say "he went shopping" and when to say "they went shopping" but given a "fill the gaps" exercise where pronouns had been removed for the sheer sake of putting them back the whole class came over mystified. I don't blame them.
 

Diane

HEdups
The politicians couldn't get into schools these days. They're all down as criminals on every database going (or should be).

Diane
 
The other one is not so much an overrated subject, but a subject that is terribly badly delivered - even more so than most of the others! The Environment. What an opportunity for reasoned debate, looking at what actually happens to rubbish, is there a demand for recycled product, if not why not, if not then why the targets making us recylce the stuff in the first place so it has to be deliberately sold on to people who are "doing their bit" in buying it back? How convincing is the evidence anyway? Is the net result of more bin lorries driving up and down to collect a few tonnes of recycling an increase in pollution? If the evidence in unconvincing then should we still do it, the idea that if recycling isn't difficult and the cost if we might be wrong is huge then why not do it anyway? But no, schools are not permitted to enter into any of this, to investigate why we are all being told to get out of our cars yet nothing is being done to reduce the rush hour and ever more speed decreasing measures are being put in so that each car already on the road pumps out more pollution than ever before!! We have to deliver the fact that recycling is a universal good, because I say so, go and do it. If you do not then you are morally wrong and reprehensible and don't care about "the planet". I don't at all mind doing useful things, but I certainly don't believe that sending a lorry up and down every street in the city an extra time each week to collect a small bundle of papers from about every 5th house is a good use of resources!

And gosh I wish you could focus in in more detail at GCSE and A level. It used to be far easier to do something like Human Biology at these levels instead of general biology. I would have happily done human biology subjects, but our school syllabus was all about cutting up plants, and I couldn't really give a monkey's how a plant takes up water and whether the disgusting insidey part is called a stamen or a flangicle. "Subjects" are so broad it means that a child who owns the lovely set of anatomical models currently in Argos (age 10 and up go hang, I would have played with them from age 4) cannot take exams based on this interest because they are not simialrly interested in amoebic reproduction. I can see their point in broadening things out when they have hundreds of thousands of children to cater for, and they cannot have one teacher cope with all their interests, but mainly because independent learning is not only not encouraged but actively discouraged - if we let you get "ahead" then what will we teach you when the class comes to book 3, so you are forbidden to open book 3. My school career in a nutshell! Coursework was set out to be an independent project on something the child was interested in, and has become a performance of putting to paper what the teacher tells you to do.
 
I think it is the idea of dividing the world into "subjects" in the first place which is overrated.
I agree with this one. The school subject classifications (and the Dewey Decimal System) were designed in the 19th century for the 19th century. I am opposed to restoring separate science subjects for GCSEs in schools because they are less accommodating of certain topics such as oceanography or forensic science that don't cleanly fit into the chemistry, physics, biology categories.

Some time ago I was discussing typefaces with HE children that were designing printed material. This is a cross curricular subject that doesn't fit into the secondary school curriculum. Is is ICT? Is it English? Is it art? Is it history?

The other one is not so much an overrated subject, but a subject that is terribly badly delivered - even more so than most of the others! The Environment.
You make a good point. Disputing global warming is not acceptable in state schools.

And gosh I wish you could focus in in more detail at GCSE and A level. It used to be far easier to do something like Human Biology at these levels instead of general biology.
When I last checked, human biology GCSE had been discontinued due to low take up of the subject. I believe there is demand for this subject but the education system will not accommodate it.
 
not a subject as such

after the claptrap i have had to deal with today... i would say that the most overrated 'subject is 'socialising/ation'... for a start off because it is not what school is intended for... surely that's why youth clubs were invented? and because it's also not what generally tends to happen in any kind of healthy and autonomous way in such a forced environment... & yet 'schoolers' always tout it as the greatest part of going to an institution... :loco:
 
after the claptrap i have had to deal with today... i would say that the most overrated 'subject is 'socialising/ation'... for a start off because it is not what school is intended for... surely that's why youth clubs were invented? and because it's also not what generally tends to happen in any kind of healthy and autonomous way in such a forced environment... & yet 'schoolers' always tout it as the greatest part of going to an institution... :loco:
What do you think of the idea of sending children to residential schools in order that they socialise more?
 
What do you think of the idea of sending children to residential schools in order that they socialise more?
... i think that 'socialising' in any form is fine as long as the person is doing it of their own free will & not because they have no other choice. However i don't think that a residential school would necessarily provide wide ranging opportunity to do so... but again then i have never attended one so i do not know for sure. I have friends who attended boarding school & loved it, but whether they did so after having to adjust their minds to the fact they had no other choice, is a matter for consideration!
 
I think school socialisation is vastly over-rated too :(
I sent a very sociable little boy to school, and watched him become more and more distressed and stressed. He didn't understand why children were mean to each other for no reason, why a friend one day was an enemy the next on a whim, didn't understand why he had to try to be 'cool' - at eight years old didn't even understand what 'cool' was :loco: and for most of his time there felt excluded as he couldn't 'fit in' no matter how hard he tried. As time passed he began to not bother trying to make friends with anyone as he expected not to be liked.

Since starting Home Ed we're seeing a big change, he's beginning to make friends and learning that he can be himself instead of trying to 'fit in' and that's ok - it works.

When it's been suggested to me that by missing secondary school he'll miss out on socialisation, I just reply that he doesn't need the type of socialisation he'd get in school :mmph:
 

Earthmother

Well-known member
I've just posted on socialisation on the other board. Why can't we let friendships develop naturally, do kids really need to have loads of friends, what if they like their own company and just to see friends on their own terms and not every day/week etc.
 
LOL, absolutely agree with RoseRodent's comments about children 'getting ahead' -which is seen as a problem in mainstream ed! My middle DD is in the thick of doing her GCSE's right now, in school, but for the last year she has found IT incredibly boring because, as all our DDs have been computer literate from the cradle, she is so far ahead of the course that she has to do make-work, or more usually is just directed by the embarrassed teacher to 'just surf the web' while the rest of the class plod through some stuff she knew when she was 6. If it wasn't such a waste, it'd be laughable!
 
On the subject of socialisation, well... it just sounds painful, doesn't it?! :bolt:
Like Polly, I had three cuddly, sociable kids who, thanks to being part of a church community, were well used to chatting with everyone from babies to octogenarians. They all had friends of all ages. Then... duh-duh-DUUUHHHHH - they went to school. All three got bullied, put down and picked on. All three had NO FRIENDS at various times, and went through that horrible thing of thinking there was something wrong with them rather than something wrong with their spoiled, bratty schoolmates - or with the system that created such a vile type of interaction. All three were aghast at the fickle, backstabbing nature of playground 'socialisation', and they still are. Come to that, so am I! Conventionalists would say that all four of us are naive, but I think the school system sucks. It sucked for me from 1968 to 1981, and it sucks now. End of!:mad2:
 

pastorswifeni

New member
Thanks

School destroyed my childhood. I too got bullied; picked on and put down, in those days beaten by teachers.I left school with no GCSE's and found out that I have dyscalulia which is why I couldn't learn the rules of team games. Yet over twenty years later, I went back to night school and then went on to get two degrees.I was told by my maths teacher your a failure, and a waste of space.

I don't want that for my son, he is HE and loves it.
 
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