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25 Useless Things You Learned in School

State Capitals

What’s the point of learning the capitals of all 50 states besides nerdy bragging rights? Nothing. With the answer to most questions now just a few keystrokes away, it’s hard to see why we should memorize the capitals.

Think about it, have you ever been asked to recite them for work or in casual conversation? I assume the answer is no (and if the answer is yes, who are you hanging out with??).


Long Division

With calculators, there’s no real need to learn many basic math skills we are taught in high school. I’m not saying that we should rely completely on calculators to solve all of our problems, but I will venture to say that nine times out of 10, you pull out your phone when you need to divide something instead of a pen and paper.

In the world we live in today, long division just isn’t useful in many circumstances. 


How to Diagram a Sentence

Although I’m a writer and I do see the need to know what makes a sentence complete and how to identify technical errors, I don’t see how diagramming a sentence is useful.

One of my teachers freshman year actually gave up on teaching my class because we just couldn’t grasp the point of it — and after that we never touched the subject again. 


The Dangling Participle

I’ll be honest, until about a few days ago I didn’t even know what a dangling participle was…but it sounds like something you learn in science class. If you’re like me and thought that too you should know we were both completely wrong.

A dangling participle (in case you’re wondering) is a grammar rule. Why you would ever need to know such a trivial thing in your everyday life is beside me. 


The Dewey Decimal System

The Dewey Decimal System was really helpful when it was created, but in our technological age today it’s not necessary. (I also distinctly remember failing our dewey decimal system test in elementary school which may be why I’m so bitter about it.)

When I go into the library to look for a certain book I usually just ask the librarian or look it up on the computer — sorry, i’m lazy.  


How to Sell Worthless Fundraising Things

Ah, the joys of ferociously selling cookie dough, wrapping paper, pasta, and basically whatever else you can think of. We had to sell magazine subscriptions to raise money for our prom and let me tell you that’s much harder than it sounds…we were falling behind our goal and the teachers made a video mocking us to put on the school news for “motivation.” 

Fundraising events like these just stress everyone out and — while they do make good money — they just aren’t worth it. 


How to Pass a Binder Check

The purpose of having to buy tabs, have a specific-sized binder, labelling tabs exactly how your teacher wants you to, and keeping papers in order is beyond me. We’ll never have to do anything like that for school again, and one simple misplaced paper could cost you valuable points. 

I can see when we were younger and needed to learn the importance of organization that binder checks were necessary, but by the time you get to high school you should have all that figured out. While I learned quickly how to ace a binder check, I’ve never understood the point. 



I can’t tell you how many hours I spent in my bed practically pulling my hair out trying to find a cacophony or rhetorical shift, and for what? I can understand how being able to interpret a poem is useful (not in real life), but having to identify specific elements line by line is tedious and pointless.

My high school even had a color-coding system for different items which made it an even bigger mess — we also studied annotation for at least a month by junior and senior year. 


Triangle Types

Who really cares if a triangle is equilateral, obtuse, isosceles, or scalene? How is that going to help me in life (unless, yet again, I’m a mathematician)?

Learning types of triangles is great for a classroom setting, but you don’t go out in the real world and try to determine the type of triangle your pizza slice is — in case you’re wondering though, if it’s cut perfectly it’s isosceles. 


The Unit Circle

I think all of us learned about the unit circle, or were at least given a diagram of it once in high school that we promptly stuffed in our backpacks and never looked at again.

The point of the unit circle is to learn about lengths and angles that correlate with trig functions, but who are we kidding ourselves when do we use trig functions left alone the unit circle? This was a complete waste of time and paper — unless, of course, you’re going to be a mathematician. 


Your School's Alma Mater

While I’m not knocking the idea of an alma mater, I am saying that there’s no real use for it after graduation. Most people forget it after a few years anyway and then wonder why they spent all that time practicing it.

I personally love my high school’s alma mater, but I can’t see myself walking down the street signing it or meeting an old classmate and breaking out into song (like some college grads do). 


How to Use a Flash Drive

Google Docs, DropBox, and all the other online storage/sharing engines have made the flash drive practically extinct. I clearly remember being required to buy a flash drive in middle school to transfer documents to my teachers, but now, with just the click of a button, they can have the files instantly on their computers.

This is an amazing accomplishment that I’m so grateful to have, but it’s basically put flash drives out of business. So while I’m not saying that the flash drive is a useless invention, I do think it’s pointless to have/use in 2016. 


Standing Quietly in Line

Standing quietly in line is not a useless skill, but it's definitely not one that schools need to hammer home as hard as they do. 

People of all ages have no shortage of opportunities to sharpen their standing in line skills. We unfortunately have to do it pretty much every day of our lives. Kids will pick this one up eventually with or without school. 


How to Make a Diorama

Dioramas might be fun and even educational, but this is one skill we're all wasting our time with in school. Unless you open a diorama museum, you'll probably never think about them again. 

When is the last time your boss asked you to make a diorama of last year's earnings? When's the last time your family almost starved because sales were down at your diorama shop? 


How to Play the Recorder

Recorders get a bad rap as an annoying and jokey instrument. And it's almost certainly because we keep handing them to a bunch of obnoxious fourth graders in music class. 

This is a common music class instrument because cheap models are easy to come by and they're easy to learn. And if "cheap" and "easy" don't sound like a quality education to you, then you clearly didn't spend enough time playing the recorder in school! 


The Order of the US Presidents

Knowing your country's history is important, but for some reason people seem to think that remembering things in chronological order is "doing history." Knowing the order of the US presidents is way less important than knowing about what they did in office. 

As I see it, there are exactly two scenarios where knowing the presidents in order would come in handy. 1) Game show. 2) You've been taken hostage by a psychotic historian who tells you to name the presidents or you die. 


How to Dissect an Animal

Dissection is a useless (and, depending on who you ask, gross) skill. Aspiring vets are quite possibly the only people who will directly benefit from this kind of instruction. 

That being said, I think that schools should still have students dissect animals to see who's too into it. It's important to keep tabs on budding serial killers. 


Writing Cursive

Cursive is a beautiful skill, but let's be honest--it's not particularly useful. These days, you should count your blessings if your kid is literate at all. 

And although it's sad to see this beautiful trend wane, there is a silver lining. As it gets more uncommon, folks who can write cursive will be able to lord their abilities over those who can't. Everybody wins...unless you don't know cursive. 


Caring for an Egg Baby

Caring for an egg like a baby in no way prepares teenagers to be parents. This simulation simultaneously is easier and harder than caring for an actual baby. 

It's easier because eggs don't need to eat and they never die of SIDS. But it's also way harder because (last time I checked) human babies don't have a thin, rigid membrane that breaks under the slightest pressure. 


Potato Batteries

So it turns out that potatoes can conduct electricity, and if schools were smart, they would just leave it at that. But no, we've all been saddled with the useless knowledge of how to make a potato battery. 

And before you think that potatoes are going to cut your electricity bill, just remember that a potato can power a single light bulb for less than a week. 


How to Jump Rope

Jumping rope is a great way to stay healthy, but in terms of useful exercises, it's pretty low at the bottom of the list. But for whatever reason, kids can't seem to get enough of it. 

Unless jump rope becomes America's next hot spectator sport, all those hours spent double dutching and learning rhymes are gonna go to waste. 


How to Use Encyclopedias

This useless skill is not really school's fault. At the time, it seemed like a good life skill to have, but technology put encyclopedias in their place pretty quickly! 

Navigating a massive set of encyclopedias was a serious task that taught you thinks like alphabetical order and research skills. It's just too bad that search engines have completely obliterated our need for these skills or these books. 


How to Procrastinate

Be honest--how many school reports and projects did you have where you waited until the last minute to get them started? More than a few, I'm sure. 

Even though they might not mean to, schools encourage students to become masters of procrastination by assigning these massive projects with a single, final due date. If the teacher is only grading you once based on the final product (and not your progress) why in the world would you waste your time creating a sensible timeline and sticking to it? 


How to Write an Application Essay

Writing an application essay isn't necessarily useless--people do use them in the real world quite frequently. But that doesn't mean it's not an awful, soul-crushing skill. 

Application essays are little more than lying to people by telling them what they want to hear. They have something you want access to, so why wouldn't you blow smoke up their butts and make them like you? It may be effective, but it's a cynical way of presenting yourself to the world. 



I get it--Latin is fun; Latin is cool; Latin is a lot of things. But one thing it most certainly is not in the modern era is useful. 

Unless you're an aspiring Pope, Latin is not really going to serve you very well in life. Nobody speaks it, but people definitely do speak languages that you don't know because you were too busy learning Latin.