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3 School Subjects Made Harder Than Necessary

Updated on June 20, 2011

In school there are always those subjects that everyone considers difficult to make it out alive, like Calculus and Physical Education. There are also a ton of classes that are actually pretty straightforward but teachers make them impossibly hard, probably because they like to watch you suffer.

"You monster."
"You monster."

Here are 3 of the most unnecessarily difficult subjects in school. You’ll be hard pressed to do well unless you’re a genius or you sleep with your teacher (see stupid ways to cheat).

1. English

English is probably the most useless subject on the list, which is actually kind of surprising. How could a subject about language and communication skills of the world’s most dominant language possibly be useless? English earns a spot here because the kind of writing taught is non-existent in anything outside English essays.

In English class, what is suggested for essays and independent study units is simply not the kind of thing you want to read. The outlines, the strict rules, the repetitive nature of the essay all add up to make something that is hard to digest.

"Like a burrito."
"Like a burrito."

In fact, the way we’re taught the subject is not only useless, the techniques can actually make it worse for you to gain a grasp on the language.

Nobody actively thinks how to form sentences, organize paragraphs or add rhetorical questions during normal conversation, and this is no different in writing. It’s the same principle with playing sports: you practice and mechanize the movements so that during game time, they come instinctively to you. In fact, thinking while playing a sport is more likely to cause you to choke.

Some of these hindering techniques include not using the word “this” and “and” in the beginning of a sentence, forbidding the use of the words “show” and “display” (apparently those are overly used – hello Microsoft word thesaurus), and weird word rules like using “human beings” instead of “humans”.

"Oh, human BEINGS. When you said humans I had no idea what you were talking about."
"Oh, human BEINGS. When you said humans I had no idea what you were talking about."

From my experience (which may not count for much but hear me out) the best writers are the ones that don’t follow these stupid rules. They treat them more as guidelines and create a balancing act between something that is not overly processed while still maintaining a unique form and structure. That way you’re able to convey your message without sounding like a robot.

If only we were taught to write essays like this one, then maybe it would have made things a bit more interesting.

2. Chemistry

I was always pretty good at chemistry. It’s a combination of logic, some basic memorization, and the incentive of cool chemical explosions. But in school they still manage to screw that up and make it harder for you.

Why? Because they hold out on you.

"Cool orbits, man."
"Cool orbits, man."

Chemistry starts off on you learning about ionic and covalent bonds, the physical properties of chemicals like solubility and viscosity, and things like the electron orbits around atoms. Specifically with the latter, you learn about the rule of 8.

The rule establishes that atoms start off with 2 electrons surrounding the first orbit and then 8 electrons for any subsequent orbits. And these lessons are carried on for the next 4 years until grade 12 or university level.

During this time you start noticing the weird exceptions, like iron 2+ and 3+. You start questioning things. Why does iron have 2 different charges? How come oxygen (O2) sometimes becomes ozone (O3)?

"Why does it burn when I splash acid in my eyes?"
"Why does it burn when I splash acid in my eyes?"

You might even ask “hey teacher, why doesn’t the rule work then?” and they always say that “it’s not important, it’s just an exception.”

But it is pretty damn important, and it’s not really an exception. Mainly because the rule of 8 is bogus.

Well, it’s not entirely bogus; it actually works quite well up until the third or fourth orbit, but quantum theory works much better in explaining it, and also explains why some metals like iron can have two different charges. It’s kind of like how Newton’s theories were surpassed by Einstein’s theory of relativity. Newton was good at explaining planetary orbits up to a certain point, but he was still fairly accurate. It’s just that space-time is even more accurate.

"Einstein's hair also surpasses Newton's theory."
"Einstein's hair also surpasses Newton's theory."

But if we had that theory all along, why did it take you 4 years to teach it to us? Did we suddenly become smarter in that last year of school?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind teaching Newton’s formulas because they’re practical as a decent approximation and much easier to use than Einstein’s.

However, the rule of 8 is not that practical in comparison and if you had taught quantum mechanics earlier, it might have made things easier to understand in the long run. All those exceptions and apparent discrepancies would no longer be a problem.

While the rule of 8 may be practical (again, not that practical), quantum mechanics isn't that difficult to understand. In fact, you could say it makes things easier because you begin conceptualizing in three dimensions instead of the limited two dimensions that we’re conditioned to think of atoms, at least initially.

Oh, and ionic bonds? Those don't exist. They're just really strong covalent bonds.

Seriously why couldn't you just say that?

3. French (or foreign languages)

I never had problems with French, or languages in general. It helps that I was taught Portuguese at an early age, which is one of the Latin or Romance languages. That makes it easier to learn French, Spanish and Italian because they are all very similar in their conjugations, their verbs and such.

Now I try to speak Portuguese daily at home so that I don’t lose the fluency and facility of speaking. I never did the same with French and I probably lost any knowledge I had with 3 years of teaching, except maybe “bonjour comma ça va” and "I am le tired." You know, the important stuff.

"Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?"
"Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?"

And that’s the problem when it comes to learning a language in a school setting. As soon as you finish that course, you’ll never use the language again, and you’ll slowly forget anything you knew about it.

A much better way to learn a language would be to simply go to a place where you have to speak it. Eventually you’ll learn it in a much better fashion than the staggered thinking of remembering the verb, wondering whether or not it’s regular or irregular, remembering the pronoun, figuring out the correct conjugation and so on. It’s the type of thought process that’s very common in language classes, even English. And yet nobody actively goes through this process when talking, in any language.

Learning the language so that you can speak and communicate naturally is the ideal. And that’s very difficult to do in a classroom setting. If you want to learn French, just go to France or Quebec for a month and force yourself to speak it daily.

Concluding Thoughts

These subjects can be hard, but they don't have to be. Here's what you can/should/will take from this:

1. Don't make English an exercise in being a (metaphorical) slave.

2. Teach the modern theories of chemistry first and supplement them with the previously accepted ones as you go along.

3. Go to France.


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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      I think a lot of subjects are made more difficult than they need to be.

    • mrpopo profile image

      mrpopo 6 years ago from Canada

      Thanks Lita! Don't get me wrong, I certainly see the value in proper structure, spelling etc., but there should be more emphasis on what you actually write about as well! And these rules shouldn't hold you back while you write (that's why I don't mind using "this" and "and" in the beginning of sentences as well :)).

      I'm glad you didn't focus your teachings on the rules too much, and thanks for commenting :)

    • Lita C. Malicdem profile image

      Lita C. Malicdem 6 years ago from Philippines

      As a former educator, I taught English the way I must, driving it hard on young minds with those stupid rules. I'm a second language user of English. LOL! You're absolutely right! I don't allow myself to stick to rules all the way, particularly in my own writing. I love to start my sentences dramatically with "this" and "and".

      I still insist that good communication is arrived at when you're appropriately understood. Too strict grammar rules will likely lead the young to adopt patterns that are out of way ending up with wrong structures. We often hear children saying "May I buy it's a pencil?" Good work here! Thanks for sharing this.

    • mrpopo profile image

      mrpopo 6 years ago from Canada

      Oh flagostomos, you are 100% right. I can't count how many times I've had an English teacher care more about the way your essay is written than what you actually had to say!

      At one point, a highly weighted assignment was given to us in which we have to write an outline for an essay. That's it, just a simple outline. However, the prof didn't mention how we should write the outline, he basically just told us to write it.

      So I did; however I went one step further and wrote points, sentences and transitions to the essay. It was basically a complete essay but in outline form; if I wanted to I could type it up and hand it in as an essay. I dedicated a lot of my time to the points themselves and made what I thought to be a good essay.

      The mark I got was just enough to pass, and it completely killed my average. Why did I get such a low mark? Because I didn't write the outline in point form.

      When I compared it to the outlines of my peers, I was shocked to learn that some of them had written one, two words at most for their outlines and gotten extremely high marks! You couldn't make anything of what they were trying to say with *two* words, and most of their points didn't even make sense.

      You know, if the purpose of this assignment was to be able to correctly write in point form, I would understand, but it was to make an outline! And so what if I just took it one step further and wrote it visualizing the essay?

      I'm not sure why I completely forgot to write about that (I actually had planned on it earlier) but I'm already thinking of 3 other school subjects where they make it harder than they need to and I might just give English a second appearance just for being so darn frustrating!

      Look forward to that, and thanks for the comment! :)

    • flagostomos profile image

      flagostomos 6 years ago from Washington, United States

      You forgot how in English class, the teacher would want you to write an Essay on some book and you would end up with a bad grade because "you completely missed the point". How does the teacher know the point? It's kind of like:

      What the author wrote: The curtains are blue.

      What the teacher says he meant: The curtains are metaphorical for the depressed state he was in.

      What the author actually meant: The curtains were f***ing blue.

      You get graded on how the English teacher likes your writing, not how well you actually wrote. My English 101 teacher was terrible for this. I wrote a 10 page essay on Shrek no less than 40 times because, and I quote "I don't like this. Do it again". My partner got his papers back, perfect in one take, because the teacher drooled over his work for some reason.

    • mrpopo profile image

      mrpopo 6 years ago from Canada

      Bluewaffle, your comment was flagged as spam. But I'll allow it, in the name of freedom of speech and peaches.

    • profile image

      bluewaffle 6 years ago

      My teacher suspended me for showing the class a picture of blue waffle. I wanted to talk about concepts and relativity, but she said it was inappropriate; fuck the police, man! I had good shit! Why I gotta follow the rules?

    • mrpopo profile image

      mrpopo 6 years ago from Canada

      Hahah, well I was only joking - I don't think many profs intentionally want you to suffer - but I know what you're talking about borge. I've been there, had a difficult physics prof in high school and a few annoying English profs that followed strict guidelines but never taught anything worthwhile.

      Another thing I forgot to mention about English is that the profs cared more about the structure and refinement of your essay than what your essay had to say. Many of my essays had some great points about character, learning, development, inner peace. At least I thought they did. Any feedback I received from it didn't even mention my points on the subject, instead targeting its structure. That's something I think we have backwards: letting a pre-defined structure dictate the topic instead of allowing the topic to develop its structure.

      Thanks for the comment!

    • borge_009 profile image

      borge_009 6 years ago from Philippines

      You're right. there are those who really want to see you suffer. Maybe they just don't want to be outsmarted that's why they are doing it.

    • mrpopo profile image

      mrpopo 6 years ago from Canada

      Glad to know I'm not the only one Mentalist! Thanks for the comment :)

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 6 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      You're right,I learned a lot in English,but I learned it many times over with a lot of techniques I never use.;)