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Surplus subjects learnt at school.

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Mike Poole23/07/2019 10:23:25
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I struggle to learn things that do not interest me, do the people who rack loads of exam qualifications have an interest in all of them or just soak stuff up because they are presented with it? One of my sons had an inspirational history teacher and for that year was interested in history, the Kids didn’t get enough exam passes and the teacher moved on. I think I would prefer my son to be interested in history which provides a lifelong interest in what surrounds us and what has happened to us and how we arrived in our present position. Unfortunately when you leave education your exam achievements are the first crude sift to the next stage. As I had a fair idea where I wanted to go the subjects that interested me came easily but I had to put in some effort to get enough to get started on the next stage. Luckily I have been offered every job I have ever applied for but that is only 4 and I took 3 of them. It doesn’t seem so easy these days, a friend has applied for 200 jobs since Christmas and not been successful yet, glad I’m retired.

Mike

SillyOldDuffer23/07/2019 10:35:48
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Posted by Nick Clarke 3 on 23/07/2019 09:40:45:

I am not certain that there are any universally 'surplus' subjects in school.

The only learning that is not appropriate is that which is either unsuitable for a particular student or badly taught.

...

Latin for example teaches one how to study and learn (common to all subjects) but more particularly how to recognise patterns and structures (conjugations, declensions, sentence structure etc) as well as providing important assistance in grammar generally.

...

I agree entirely with Nick apart - maybe - from the alleged advantages of Latin. When Latin was the language of education, it enabled international communication. But as a medium of communication Latin isn't good for commerce or technology.

Computer programming languages have extremely strict syntax, semantics, grammar and spelling. And computer programming is deeply into patterns and structures, all very formal with tight rules. Curious then that not only is learning Latin not essential to becoming a computer programmer, but in 40 years I don't think I met any computer programmers who had studied it!

I think the suggestion that Latin provides general guidance on Grammar or how to pronounce words is pretty much exploded. Maybe it has value in Italy, Spain, France, Romania and Portugal, even though these languages are based on vulgar Latin rather than academic Latin. Although English has many Latin words, there are dozens of other strong influences and, as a whole, English does not follow Latin grammar rules. It would be a sad thing if no-one learned Latin, but it doesn't have a utilitarian purpose.

There's a joke in one of the Patrick O'Brien novels (recommended). Captain Aubrey says something like: 'And what is wrong with the way the English pronounce Latin?' to which the educated Stephen Maturin replies: 'Nothing at all, except no one else can understand it.'

Dave

PS. Trouble with identifying surplus subjects at school is that we all know what worked for us but not what matters to others. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Religious Education was wasted on me, but I expect it helped the Archbishop of Canterbury to get started. I don't do a lot of Biology, but my GP does, etc etc.

FMES23/07/2019 11:40:02
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Posted by Mike Poole on 23/07/2019 10:23:25:

I struggle to learn things that do not interest me, do the people who rack loads of exam qualifications have an interest in all of them or just soak stuff up because they are presented with it? One of my sons had an inspirational history teacher and for that year was interested in history, the Kids didn’t get enough exam passes and the teacher moved on. I think I would prefer my son to be interested in history which provides a lifelong interest in what surrounds us and what has happened to us and how we arrived in our present position. Unfortunately when you leave education your exam achievements are the first crude sift to the next stage. As I had a fair idea where I wanted to go the subjects that interested me came easily but I had to put in some effort to get enough to get started on the next stage. Luckily I have been offered every job I have ever applied for but that is only 4 and I took 3 of them. It doesn’t seem so easy these days, a friend has applied for 200 jobs since Christmas and not been successful yet, glad I’m retired.

Mike

Working today in engineering education with young people, the most common attitude of the learners is in the main ' Fire and Forget' in other words they cram hard for an exam to be able to pass it, but a few weeks down the line 'skill fade' sets in with little or no memory of the subjects taught.

We used to split our machining courses up into theory and practical, with an exam at the end, in some cases it could be quite a few weeks between the two parts being completed.

We had to stop doing that because the majority of learners had virtually no recollection of the earlier part, and even when told to revise before cominig in to the exam, expected to be given the answers on a crib sheet before going in - a school policy in some cases in order to keep pass marks up.

I too am an Calisthenic (may be the wrong word) Learner - I learn by 'Doing' I cannot sit and listen to someone ramble on for ages as it gets boring. in addition I'm mildly dyslexic, so Secondary School (Yes failed the 11+ too) was a total pain, but nobody back in the 60's knew what was going on - words were just a mess to me - it took a massive amount of effort just to be able to learn to read and write properly, let alone learn Latin et al.

Left school for a mechanical engineering apprentiship, getting in by submitting my CSE project - a Suart 10H which I built in engineering class over three years. I don't profess to being brilliant in any way shape or form and sometimes i do wonder if the phrase ' Can tell you the square root of a jar of pickles, but can't get the lid off' is applicable to some of the writers on this forum.

Perhaps one set of lessons that should never be classed as suplus within education is 'Equality and Diversity'

Regards

Edited By FMES on 23/07/2019 11:59:56

Bill Phinn23/07/2019 13:14:01
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Posted by V8Eng on 23/07/2019 09:37:26:
Posted by Bill Phinn on 22/07/2019 19:03:11:
Posted by Howi on 22/07/2019 13:13:05:

simul et usus ero alea satis prospera, podicem meum prae pulvere non videbis.

Well: Google translate came up with this from that text:-

and the use of the dice at the same time I will be quite successful, will make naked in comparison with the dust, Thou shalt not see my.

quite amusing in its own right I think.

Edited By V8Eng on 23/07/2019 09:38:56

I can sense you're almost certainly not implying that Google Translate is a meaningful guide to a translation's accuracy, but just in case you are, please see here.

That is a translation site manned by humans, and they actively welcome people wanting to check a Latin translation for accuracy.

Nick Clarke 323/07/2019 13:14:05
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Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 23/07/2019 10:35:48:

There's a joke in one of the Patrick O'Brien novels (recommended). Captain Aubrey says something like: 'And what is wrong with the way the English pronounce Latin?' to which the educated Stephen Maturin replies: 'Nothing at all, except no one else can understand it.'

Dave

Possibly more educated than is obvious - For years the English pronounced Latin with soft emphasis. eg sisero for Cicero unlike the Kickero pronunciation when I started to learn Latin in the 1960s. Similarly Caesar's supposed comment weni, weedi, weechi was superceded by veiny, veedi, veechi. (note: intentional phonetic bad spelling!)

One teacher at my school even admitted that he no longer taught Latin (he was a clergyman) because he only knew the old pronunciations.

Another bit of useless information to be forgotten ASAP! smiley

Nick

Edited By Nick Clarke 3 on 23/07/2019 13:16:27

V8Eng23/07/2019 15:41:17
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Posted by Bill Phinn on 23/07/2019 13:14:01:
Posted by V8Eng on 23/07/2019 09:37:26:
Posted by Bill Phinn on 22/07/2019 19:03:11:
Posted by Howi on 22/07/2019 13:13:05:

simul et usus ero alea satis prospera, podicem meum prae pulvere non videbis.

 

Well: Google translate came up with this from that text:-

and the use of the dice at the same time I will be quite successful, will make naked in comparison with the dust, Thou shalt not see my.

quite amusing in its own right I think.

Edited By V8Eng on 23/07/2019 09:38:56

I can sense you're almost certainly not implying that Google Translate is a meaningful guide to a translation's accuracy, but just in case you are, please see here.

That is a translation site manned by humans, and they actively welcome people wanting to check a Latin translation for accuracy.

 

Nothing serious about that it certainly amused me though!

I think online translators are a bit like calculators in that you need to have some understanding of what the correct output should be before using one.

Edited By V8Eng on 23/07/2019 15:54:05

Edited By V8Eng on 23/07/2019 15:54:24

3404623/07/2019 18:41:37
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Just watched a video by Richard Branson in which he says he was known as the dumbest boy at school. He suffered with dislexia so the blackboard was a total muddle to him. He left secondary school with no qualifications .

Bill.

Bill Phinn23/07/2019 21:54:38
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Posted by 34046 on 23/07/2019 18:41:37:

Just watched a video by Richard Branson in which he says he was known as the dumbest boy at school. He suffered with dislexia so the blackboard was a total muddle to him. He left secondary school with no qualifications .

Bill.

I think it's safe to say that leaving school with no qualifications doesn't automatically mean that you aren't very intelligent, just as making billions of pounds through business ventures doesn't automatically mean that you are.

Nick Clarke 323/07/2019 22:06:42
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Posted by Bill Phinn on 23/07/2019 21:54:38

I think it's safe to say that leaving school with no qualifications doesn't automatically mean that you aren't very intelligent, just as making billions of pounds through business ventures doesn't automatically mean that you are.

If Richard Branson felt that he had been given the skills and ability to keep learning through life he may not have needed to remain in school and gain more qualifications if he did not intend to be applying for jobs with other people. If you look at the Stowe school  website (where he studied) you will see that they try to educate in a holistic manner rather than only enable pupils to get numerous qualifications.

Edited By Nick Clarke 3 on 23/07/2019 22:09:39

DMB23/07/2019 22:18:54
901 forum posts

School (any type) is but a launch pad of learning for later life. Rather like the relay races (which I hated together with all other forms of sport), it's a case of grab the baton and run! I went to a Secondary Modern, having failed the 11+ and learnt useful things like simple plumbing and house wiring as well as woodwork and metalwork.Metalwork was simple lathe turning on a Boxford, hand work like marking out, hackswing and filing, some soft soldering and brazing. I continued to increase my metalworking knowledge with my first job, operating one of several shapers that the firm had. I moved on and used a drill and surface grinder. I bought an old flat bed Drummond and made some loco parts with it and lost them in a house move. A local club member bought the Drummond as his first lathe and I bought a brand new Super 7 from a toolshop in Brighton. I bought a new Sharp brand mill at an ME Exhibition and completely self - taught how to use it.

Point is, you never stop learning after leaving school, it being much easier if you have an avid interest in the subject.

Model engineering needs a certain maths ability, same as if you earn a living in engineering. I am reasonably proficient with maths and at spelling so I cringe every time that I read "arbor" incorrectly spelt with a spare "u" in it. That's only one example of bad spelling all too frequently.

Just wish journalists would stop using rarely used words to show off how clever that they think they are, e.g., "Abrogate" instead of "Stop." There are quite a few examples in the papers. So annoying to have to look up the rarities.

Many years ago I used to read the Sunday Telegraph, which I thought was quite a good quality paper, rather than the red top rags. Imagine the shock at reading that the Editor said todays youth are only interested in the 3 'd's- football, fighting and f***ing in that order and the last word was spelt in full.I nearly dropped the paper. Today, the world has moved on and one hears this used in common conversation, even by young teenage girls. Trouble is, I'm getting old and left behind.

 

Edited By DMB on 23/07/2019 22:21:11

John Duncker 123/07/2019 22:20:31
32 forum posts

Computer programming languages have extremely strict syntax, semantics, grammar and spelling. And computer programming is deeply into patterns and structures, all very formal with tight rules. Curious then that not only is learning Latin not essential to becoming a computer programmer, but in 40 years I don't think I met any computer programmers who had studied it!

Monkey patching programmer here who did Latin to O level under duress. Went on to learn to hack my way through Pascal C C++ and for my sins Dbase.

DMB23/07/2019 22:41:07
901 forum posts

I actually wanted to make good use of my English and earn what I thought was good money - become a Compositor but failed to get into the print trade due to the closed shop system run by the unions. So did engineering for a while to Mothers disgust as she hated the metallic smell that I brought home. Done all sorts of things since; Rhine Army soldering, so learnt a few German words. Debt collecting, Security,as fill in job after redundancy til retirement. Previously, done various office jobs including bank - type work for a Simulator company. Having gained experience of handling currencies, I can say that the UK missed a trick. The Dutch Guilder notes had small triangles and circles filled with embossed? pimples to enable the blind to know the value of the note that they held.

Basic engineering training at school is not so relevant today so computer useage and programming is now more important in preparing youngsters for the big job search.

Colin Whittaker24/07/2019 04:45:25
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The theory says that education especially higher education was designed to show conspicuous consumption. To this end it was essential to study something of no monetary use i.e. I'm so rich I can study solely for effect and not to land a job.

Ideal subjects were dead languages, Latin, Greek, etc. Archeology, History, Geology, Geography, and so on. This is the reason that Pure Mathematics and Theoretical Physics were made separate from Applied Mathematics (and Physics) and could thus be included as Oxbridge degree subjects.

Of course, the prime minister excepted, not many of us can afford to study something that is not vocational and so we started to hear how Latin is actually useful because it teaches us how to name plants and describe medical complaints! Geography and History train the brain etc. As an aside, it is strange that while there are apologists for Latin there are none for Greek despite the extensive use of the Greek alphabet in Science and Engineering.

While at University I struggled with the Mathematics in my Engineering course and failed completely at partial differential calculus, I mean who would ever use this stuff? Subsequently I spent years acquiring and interpreting pressure transient data on gas wells in North Sumatra. I'm sure fate just wanted to push my face in things.

But back to school, which subject least useful? Definitely an O'level in Religious Studies (The Synoptic Gospels). I only had 7 subjects at O'level because I had dropped Latin. That meant I was studying Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, English, French, Technical Drawing and Religious Studies.

The sixth form was a chance to study what I liked and what I found easy. Is there a connection? And my A'level grades spelled the name of a well known Swedish pop group.

In the middle 70's, when Universities were essentially free, nobody seemed to want to study engineering so I waltzed into Imperial College.

Yes I am a little full of myself and you are free, though not obliged, to remind me of the fact.

Cheers, Colin

Martin Kyte24/07/2019 09:39:10
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May I suggest that education is not solely concerned with acquiring new information, understanding or skills. It does change the brain of the person who is learning. Like the London Cabbie who does the knowledge and ends up with a physically altered brain where spacial cognicence is enhanced Latin for example changes the way the learner thinks so that logical thought, cerebral dexterity and the ability to handle complex ideas is enhanced. This remains even though the person may not utter or write a word of Latin from then on. Mathematics, Music and Art are others.

Clearly some subjects change the learner more than others but do not neccesarily discount subjects that have change who you are even though they were of no direct further use when you dropped them.

regards Martin

PS in answer to the original question French, because I was forced to give up biology and made to do it. I wound up becoming an electronics engineer via Physics, Maths and Art A levels, HND and CEI Part 2 and finally working for the last 30 years at a world class centre for Molecular Biology. So I guess I had the last laugh eventually.

 

 

Edited By Martin Kyte on 24/07/2019 09:45:40

Samsaranda24/07/2019 17:24:49
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I spent 14 years as a governor of a very good Primary School and the longer I was there, the more it became obvious that our educational system is seriously flawed. The politicians impose constraints in the form of (academic) levels that must be achieved and league tables are used as a metaphorical stick to beat those establishments that do not do well. This has very little to do with ensuring that children are fitted to take their place in the world at large. Some children achieve brilliantly at academic subjects whilst others really struggle but have strengths in other areas. Under our current system those who achieve poorly in academic subjects are cast aside by the system which strives to show ever improving academic results in the league tables. A good school, and the one I was governor at was one, will make every effort to include all pupils in making sure that all have a chance at achieving in some form or other, be it sport, drama or other non academic activities which unfortunately are not recorded as academic achievements . I am very disappointed that the system still focuses on producing at the end point, pupils who have achieved the requisite number of GCSE’s and there is no account taken of other activities that contribute to making young people fit to take their place in the world of work. We need to get away from teaching subjects at school just because we have always taught that subject, we need to focus on what engages youngsters and contributes to making them better citizens, we need a more holistic and vocational education system. It is evident from some of the experiences in this thread that many of us would have benefitted from a radically different education that focussed on our abilities that were not academic. If I had my way I would burn all the Latin textbooks, but that is just born from my excruciating Latin lessons that I was forced to take.

Dave W

Mick B124/07/2019 17:35:45
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Posted by Samsaranda on 24/07/2019 17:24:49:

I spent 14 years as a governor of a very good Primary School and the longer I was there, the more it became obvious that our educational system is seriously flawed.

...

If I had my way I would burn all the Latin textbooks, but that is just born from my excruciating Latin lessons that I was forced to take.

Dave W

Hear, hear. But don't burn textbooks - there's an anti-Nazi German saying that says that if you burn books, you will generally end up burning people too. It'd be better to quietly supersede them (Latin super - above, sedere - sit, as in a higher court overruling a lower one's ruling) with books that explain the roots of our own languages.

Edited By Mick B1 on 24/07/2019 17:36:42

Samsaranda24/07/2019 17:55:12
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Nicely put Mick B1. Dave W

Mike Poole24/07/2019 19:29:05
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Monday morning, start tech college at 9am finish at 7pm, start work at 8pm, Tuesday morning 7am, go home for a well earned sleep. I wonder how many youngsters would be up for doing that these days?

Mike

Ron Laden25/07/2019 09:21:27
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The one subject I was not too fond of was "the headmasters cane" it must have been regarded as a subject as it was taught in a lesson..? Just before applying the punishment he always said "right boy, here is a lesson you wont forget in a hurry".

And yes I did suffer it on a couple of occasions..sad arguing your innocence was futile, he considered that if you had been sent to his office you were 100% guilty.

Edited By Ron Laden on 25/07/2019 09:28:39

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