What's the Use? | Teen Ink

What's the Use?

August 13, 2014
By PenOnParchment BRONZE, Chino Hills, California
PenOnParchment BRONZE, Chino Hills, California
2 articles 0 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
"What is literature
but the illumination of that which I would write?" -Rider Strong

It’s not often you hear about average kids getting excited about math class- not many kids fall in love with geometry or do algebra for fun. In fact, math class often brings up the question ,“What use is all of this in real life?” After all, it’s not like teenagers need the help of Pythagorean Theorem or ratios to solve their problems. As teens, our problems tend to fall to the dramas of dating, getting acceptable grades, and making our parents understand us, while trying to grow up as mature people-and there’s no formula that can help. Of course, that’s not exactly the case later on in life.

The next generation is a generation of smartphones and Google; and we’re only moving forward. We have robots that vacuum, 3D printers that can print items from splints to even parts of a human skull, and plasma knives that can save lives. We rely on technology to help us live at a faster and more efficient pace than ever before. The whole world can be accessed with a single device the size of your hand; robots can basically think for themselves- and yet students don’t seem to be interested. We jump with excitement at new gadgets and games, without caring about the amount of science and math that was used to create them-and even though we currently learn these subjects in theory, it seems students don’t realize that in reality. They can move mountains, almost literally!

So really, instead of asking ourselves “How is this important in real life?” we should probably be asking more questions along the lines of “Why aren't we interested?” And this is one question that's hard to answer. Why aren't more teens interested in robotics, and engineering, and technology, instead of tv dramas and video games? What’s so appealing about mind-numbing violence and already-seen reruns against exploring new ways to solve problems and build solutions? One of the biggest reasons is school.

School is a great place to learn, and quite frankly we probably wouldn't get all that far without it, but when you go every single day to school and sit staring at worksheets and textbooks and come home to do more worksheets and stare at more textbooks about the same concepts which to you are absolutely useless in reality, the excitement is slightly hard to retain. At this point can you really blame teens for not being all that into more math and science? And it’s not just school that throws them off either, its the way people learn. Some enjoy the classroom organization, with note-taking and homework and tests on a weekly basis. However, many kids find themselves bored of the same-old routine, itching for something more involving, more hands on, where they can think freely and learn in newer ways.

On top of that, the real connection between school and real life tends to be fogged over by homework; despite being told how important school is for a successful future the reasoning is rarely explained past the same sentence, or a plethora of ways to rephrase it. It’s not that this connection is unclear; rather it’s pretty simple when you think it through. But it’s not always an incredibly obvious point. Having to search for a real link, having to look for reasons to actually care about the schoolwork past their parents’ disappointment at low grades, is a complete turn-off, and causes teens to push away the idea of working hard to retain the information for future use. Instead they memorize lessons the night before a test, and forget about it once the end-of-school bell rings the next day. Now I may not have years and years of research and advanced schooling, but I think I can sense something a little off here. Isn't the point of going to school to learn and prepare for the future? This memorize-to-forget method may not be all that effective.

However, school isn't the only reason students aren't interested in science and math and all those incredibly interesting subjects. Another reason is our society. It may not be worldwide, but at least in the United States the idea of being a smart kid has been defined by a Hollywood stereotype, complete with obnoxious glasses and a tendency to be bullied. With a connotation like that following the image of a ‘smart kid’, it’s understandable as to why not many kids would be all that interested in being the nerd of the class. Not meaning to, we put so high an emphasis on media, sports, and other things that science and math are pushed down the ladder of importance, and pushed further and further away from the spotlight. As it turns out, it’s not that math and science are really boring- it’s just that kids don’t always want to be interested.

But most of all, the reason not many kids are all that interested in learning is because they've yet to find something truly interesting to learn. Most kids and teens haven’t found anything that really sparks their curiosity, or makes them want to learn more, and so they continue to waste time and energy. What good is that? Though it may not be popular yet, the only real way for this generation to really move forward is for kids to start taking interest in more than just Pretty Little Liars and Call of Duty- to explore new subjects, new sciences and inventions and breakthroughs. So change the channel, or take a break from the video games; you never know what might come along and get your interest triggered.

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