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Surplus subjects learnt at school.

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Former Member19/07/2019 18:31:55
1329 forum posts

[This posting has been removed]

Mike Poole19/07/2019 18:39:36
3308 forum posts
73 photos

Latin could be handy if you ever felt the calling to be a Catholic priest. I found it interesting when I realised that English also had similar rules and structure to Latin but isn’t taught in the same way.


pgk pgk19/07/2019 18:44:04
2553 forum posts
293 photos

The pyramid of choice gets narrower as we get older. Nowt wrong with a wide grounding and doubtless you had some ideas regarding what you wanted to do and took fewer subjects later. Fnally you retire and hobble around with odd hobbies and a bit of gardening - finally your latin becomes useful with all those plant names.


Roderick Jenkins19/07/2019 18:48:12
2176 forum posts
608 photos

Until the the late sixties you had to have Latin 'o' level if you wanted to go to Oxford or Cambridge. It would have been a pity to constrain your choice if you didn't have it wink


Brian G19/07/2019 18:55:14
839 forum posts
37 photos
Posted by 34046 on 19/07/2019 18:31:55:


I could never understand why I had to learn LATIN written and oral ??


Perhaps because that is what a "Grammar School" teaches? English, Greek and the Humanities were gradually added over the centuries.

I was lucky enough to go to a Technical School. Starting out as a spectrographer, moving to chemistry and then production planning, design, and finally quality gave a purpose to having studied physics, chemistry, maths, technical drawing and statistics.


Former Member19/07/2019 19:06:59
1329 forum posts

[This posting has been removed]

Howard Lewis19/07/2019 19:07:44
6040 forum posts
14 photos

Maybe the advantage is that the surplus subjects leave you with an understanding of the principle, rather than detail.

Have very rarely needed to make detailed use of my S level Physics, or Chemistry, nor to do many calculations involving the Theory of Structures. Have spent an awful lot of time finding solutions for the errors made by those who did!

But very appreciative of the usually self effacing folk who did get it right, so that it worked first time!

In the bus industry, we used to say that the Assistant Chief Engineer learned more and more about less and less until he knew every thing about nothing; whereas the Chief Engineer learned less and less about more and more, until he knew nothing about everything. Sadly, I could name one of the latter!

All knowledge is useful, but some is more useful than some of the other; depending upon the circumstances.

You never know when that snippet may be useful, if not a life saver!

(Once came upon a lady who had lost a wheel from her car. Once it had been returned, we took one wheel bolt from the other three wheels so she was able to drive slowly and carefully to the garage that failed to tighten the four lost ones, and repair the damage! )


Mick B119/07/2019 19:42:22
2163 forum posts
119 photos

I found Latin a drag at the time, but I'm now grateful for it. It makes several other languages easier to understand even if you can't speak them, and it exposes the structure, roots and original meanings of very many English words too.

IMO the boundary in knowledge between that which makes life practical and that which makes it interesting is never sharp.

old mart19/07/2019 19:52:02
3728 forum posts
233 photos

I've never needed differential calculus since leaving school.

Sandgrounder19/07/2019 20:04:10
243 forum posts
6 photos


Mike Poole19/07/2019 20:13:18
3308 forum posts
73 photos

Calculus was interesting but I have not found it useful either but I can imagine it could be useful in some jobs even if software can do many of the tasks where it may be useful. I still don’t know how to play football as they only played rugby at my school


vintage engineer19/07/2019 20:27:11
257 forum posts
1 photos

They tried to teach me Religious Studies until I got suspended for arguing that there was no proof that Jesus existed!

Former Member19/07/2019 20:31:38
1329 forum posts

[This posting has been removed]

larry phelan 119/07/2019 20:34:15
1172 forum posts
15 photos

Yes indeed, very few of them wanted to hear the truth.

not done it yet19/07/2019 20:45:31
6749 forum posts
20 photos

I had to learn some latin - 3 years, I think - but I did attend the Royal Latin School, so not so surprising!. I think we only did 10 or 11 subjects at GCE ’O’ Level - then on to ‘A’ Levels. Latin at GCE, as a requirement for Oxbridge, had gone by the mid 60s, I believe. Might still have been needed for a humanities course, mind, but not science (I think).

Unfortunately, in those days, the girls were not allowed to learn shorthand and typing skills as those types of careers were frowned upon by the school - only the secondary modern lasses had the benefit of such lessons and the jobs they led to.! Not good for those who did not progress to ‘A’ Levels.

Until 1963, the grammar school did not have any wood or metal working facilities - we went over to the secondary mod school for a double lesson in woodwork once a week while the girls did domestic science.

Definitely more academic than technical/practical. I never learned anything in art or music classes. There were only two of us doing ‘A’ Level Chemistry in my cohort as the humanities were so much more popular (or easier?).

I use my maths, English and sciences all the time. How else can most understand the underlying technicalities of modern-day living?

OK, most don’t - they just absorb the fake news and use text-talk and google, etc. Youngsters are easily persuaded by lobbyists (those pushing products on u-tube). They are often unable to think for themselves. But, I don’t suppose things have changed much, really, over the generations. Perhaps a change from labour intensive careers to key-pushing, but that is all.... remember that half the population is below average...

Swarf, Mostly!19/07/2019 21:00:50
646 forum posts
70 photos
Posted by not done it yet on 19/07/2019 20:45:31NIP.

Until 1963, the grammar school did not have any wood or metal working facilities - we went over to the secondary mod school for a double lesson in woodwork once a week while the girls did domestic science.


I have to disagree with you there.

I attended Woking County Grammar School for Boys (to give it its full title) between 1947 and 1954. On the lowest floor of the school building there were an active woodwork shop and an active metalwork shop. There was also a third shop known as 'the Plumbing shop' though I have to admit that that one was only used as a miscellaneous storage space.

That building is a Police Station nowadays - re-purposing it must have been quite a challenge for the architects concerned.

Best regards,

Swarf, Mostly!

john fletcher 119/07/2019 21:17:32
785 forum posts

How fortunate you all seem to be. I was a boy in WW11, at school we had old ladies out of retirement, who didn't know much and taught us kids less. they fell a sleep in front of the open fire in the afternoons and woe be tide you if you woke them up. Don't remember 11 plus either. With only the three Rs before joining, I had my education in the army, hated it but turned my life around. Spent two horrible years in fly blown Egypt, the electrical courses I went on were good. In the end, so was the pay, which was linked to ones technical achievement. John

Bill Phinn19/07/2019 21:18:27
739 forum posts
103 photos

I wouldn't say any subjects I did at school were surplus subjects. Slightly unusually perhaps, I took Latin O level and Latin and Greek A Levels, then went on to do a degree in something I didn't even have an O Level in: Biological Sciences.

Bill Davies 219/07/2019 21:49:51
278 forum posts
11 photos

I have found that I used pretty much everything I learned at school; I can't say whether that was the planned outcome. My wife studied Latin (and French and German) and I have found her useful to have a first stab at explaining the meaning of some arbitrary word. In this regard, she is replaced by Google translate.

I worked for a multinational firm for some years, learned some Italian post-school, which proved useful to break some ice and get a little credibility, although four years of school French provided less benefit. However, I feel that was my fault. On occasions I have used most of the Maths learned at school and college.

My generation (at least in Surrey, or was it all of England) didn't learn Biology (if you were a boy, otherwise it was Physics that was unavailable to you). A loss now, I wish I understood more, it seems quite useful.

A Computer Science degree in my thirties provided knowledge not taught at school, would it have been available when I was at school? So it seems from earlier comments that we might have benefited from whatever we were taught, but we value more that which we learned later. Perhaps we were becoming more responsible in our learning?


Harry Wilkes19/07/2019 21:55:43
1328 forum posts
65 photos

I had a choice I went for German as it help me since leaving school absolutely visited Maastricht on a coach tour and was able to order 5 coffee's also was able to communicate to a visitor from a French supplier to my company who was in fact German who spoke perfect English.

Much like fellow forum member Vintage Engineer I was on more than one occasion sent out of English lit for not paying attention I was in fact busy watching the girls playing net ball wink

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