Who needs algebra, anyway?
This week, a 15-year-old schoolgirl from New Zealand was suspended for giving an epic smackdown of a speech that criticised her teachers for being lazy and for teaching kids useless information instead of important life skills.
Year 10 student Anela Pritchard delivered the speech as part of a class assignment, and it was so cutting that it apparently left her English teacher in tears.
Here are some of the zingers from her speech that’s gone viral on Facebook (with more than 20,000 likes, 7,000 shares and 700 comments).
“Teachers are paid to teach us, not paid to hand out a piece of paper with words on it and sit round and do nothing.”
“Do I honestly need to know what a= 1+rn to the 2nd power is, go over the treaty Waitangi every year since I was literally 5 or memorize the periodic table in order to get somewhere in life? Do I honestly need to know the structure of a seed and how it works and whatnot? No, I don’t think so.”
“In High School, we should be learning about the real world, how to pay my taxes, apply for jobs, mortgage my house, buy a car, things that we will actually use in the future. So far, I’ve only learned that whatever I manage to get done in a short amount of time isn’t enough.”
“It’s teachers like this that make us students want to skip class and not go to school …our teachers chose this career and need to try to cater for each individuals education.”
Ouch. But does she also have a point?
Is Pritchard a precocious brat?
If you have beef with the school curriculum, is it appropriate to handle it by making your teacher cry and probably committing her to years of therapy? No.
Should you attack teachers personally because you’re not happy with what’s being taught? No.
But while everyone is getting shouty about the speech, they’re kind of missing the point – that among the important stuff, we’re also taught a whole pile of useless crap in high school.
At 18, I knew that osmosis meant “the movement of water across a porous or semi-porous membrane which results in each side being equally diffused” – but I had no idea how to address an envelope or sew a button or, you know, change a light bulb without being electrocuted.
And surely I’m not alone when I say I’ve never once used Pythagoras’ theorem or had to dissect a bull’s eye or fit a condom on a banana IRL, right? RIGHT?
I did a quick straw poll for what people wished they were taught in high school. Here’s what they had to say:
TAX. I wish I knew how to do tax. – Laura
Instead of learning how to sew ill-fitting boxer shorts, I would have actually benefited from learning how to sew a button back on to a jacket and make it stay there. And how to hem things. – Kahla
Instead of learning to de-construct a U2 song, I wished they’d taught me to keep left unless overtaking. – Bern
I wish I was taught budgeting and car maintenance and less about religion. – Jo
How to remove stains from clothing (besides just chucking everything in the washing machine and hoping for the best). – Bec
Instead of hammering together pieces of wood in ‘woodwork’, they should make you build an IKEA bookshelf. Life skills right there: ‘Your assignment: This flatpack.’ – Kahla again (she too feels strongly about this topic)
Sure, schools need to teach kids academic information across a range of subjects and sure, they’re not there to hold your hand through your whole life – but I would have appreciated not having to find out the hard way that filling out a tax return wrongly means YOU NEED TO PAY THE GOVERNMENT MONEY, for example.
So, take that, Department Of Education. Now, excuse me while I go and Google how long you can leave chicken in the fridge for without dying.
What do you wish you had been taught in school?
While we’re talking about high school, here are some of our favourite Mean Girl moments.
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