The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #161902   Message #3851670
Posted By: Steve Shaw
21-Apr-17 - 11:19 AM
Thread Name: BS: Choice of education
Subject: RE: BS: Choice of education
The Victorians imposed arbitrary school subject boundaries and they've stuck largely because universities have dictated from above what they expect schools to churn out. There's a lot more to a well-rounded education than simply a thorough grounding in a "subject." Any subject taken at school or university, given good teaching, will equip students with study skills (i.e., acquiring a lust for knowledge, knowing how to gather, evaluate and interpret information and developing critical thinking) that will serve well across artificial subject lines. Over and above that, we need specialisms, hopefully achieved by getting students enthusiastic about particular fields of endeavour.

When I took Latin at school I thought it was a bullshit subject. Not so. It was the savour in my schooling right up to the time I finished teacher training. Have I "used" Latin? Of course I have. I "use" it all the time. It informs the way I write and understand my own language for a start (helps with those pesky plant names too). I spent weeks doing a palaeobotany course. We studied pollen deposits right from the end of the last glaciation in order to glean the flora of the time and we collected Jurassic fossil gymnosperms, horsetails and ginkgos from the cliffs between Scarborough and Whitby. Have I used that? Well I don't talk about it much, but at the time it fired my imagination for many other aspects of biological science. We did have an amazing teacher. I spent a week studying red campion variability at Malham Tarn. I was never going to turn the deserts green doing that but the real science in that study was incalculable. A woman who was in my university class in 1969 still works at Malham Tarn Field Centre, running courses on various environmental matters. There are no bullshit subjects and no bullshit degrees. There's good education, which means using your skills to go out and grab knowledge for yourself rather than sit there waiting for someone to pour it over you, like that chemistry "teacher" I mentioned.