What subjects should be emphasized in high schools?

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  1. mathsciguy profile image59
    mathsciguyposted 12 years ago

    Students in North Carolina schools have, for a long time, been all required to take courses each year in the following subjects: Math, History, and English.  In light of the belt-tightening that many school districts are coping with, other programs are being done away with (such as art classes, electives, etc) in order to afford the large number of teachers needed to provide instruction for every student in these subjects each year.

    So, the question is, what should get cut?  What needs to stay?  And why?

    I would propose demoting English (as it is currently taught - more literature and poetry than actual writing and communication skill) to be an elective course, leaving grammar and composition to be covered as it is in the currently required Communication Skills course.  My reasoning for this is that, while literature and poetry are generally considered to be refining elements of a person's education, revising the history courses to be more thematically taught (as opposed to chronologically) would fill in for the dose of humanity that English is presumed to give students.

    In place of English as a primary subject, I would propose nothing.  The rationale behind this is that the whole point of this discussion is in the interest of lowering cost of public education per student, without at the same time lowering the quality of education per student.  If another subject were to be required for every student every year, then nothing is gained by rearranging the roles of English and History courses.

    1. Freegoldman profile image41
      Freegoldmanposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Extracurricular activities should me more emphasized

    2. Obscure_Treasures profile image55
      Obscure_Treasuresposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      science thats for sure

    3. Ms Dee profile image87
      Ms Deeposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Our schools lack a teaching of our real American history. See the American Heritage Series on youtube. This greatly effects the future of our nation.

      The philosophy in the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next. (Attributed to President Abraham Lincoln)

  2. thooghun profile image91
    thooghunposted 12 years ago

    I understand your logic, though I'm going to disagree on instinct. I find that studying literature is less about understanding the literature on its own terms, than assimilating and refining our own language and consequently improving our thinking. Much like gaining a new language is like opening a window on how that culture thinks, understanding the way great minds wrote, opens up all kinds of introspective windows.

    I find that most of today's leading intellectuals, scientists e.t.c are almost all deeply literate and well-read. I think there is an unalienable connection between their knowledge and their intelligence.

    From my university days, looking back, I found the courses to be of little to no value where (despite being a lit/communication major) marketing courses and most business courses. Since when you do move on and get a job, you'll almost certainly be re-apprehending those subjects from scratch.

    Good question!

    1. Rafini profile image83
      Rafiniposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      like, like, like, like, like!

      good answer!

  3. TLMinut profile image60
    TLMinutposted 12 years ago

    I would cut literature before cutting out music (though it's too late in most places). Music has been shown to have such a beneficial effect on learning, personality, attitude...whereas lit seems to have the effect of leaving kids annoyed and confused. Incorporating literature into history lessons would be quite appropriate I think.

    1. shogan profile image75
      shoganposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      In essence, you're saying you'd cut reading before music.  I love music, and have played instruments for many years, but music shouldn't come before the study of literature.  Literature courses in high school serve as the extension of reading programs in lower grades.

  4. TLMinut profile image60
    TLMinutposted 12 years ago

    No, I can't let that stand. I would NOT "cut reading"; what I'd cut is reading very old out-of-date literature (classics). Maybe that's not what's offered anymore, I'm pretty old but when I was in school we had to read Shakespeare. That was a foreign language by then, nearly every sentence needed to be translated. Pointless.

    Some that my kids had to read were just as old and depressing as hell. Once again, pointless.

    Two of my kids are musical, I haven't the slightest aptitude for music at all. I don't even listen to music often, about once every few months. I AM an avid reader but I still can't agree that lit courses are needed for three or four years in high school.

    1. mathsciguy profile image59
      mathsciguyposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      This was my point, originally, though I understand that I didn't state it as well as you did just now.  I take the approach that a program should be able to demonstrate its worth.  Not support its worth with presumptions about how it builds humanity and character and soul into students - presumptions which are never corroborated by any real experimentation or investigative research.  And if a program cannot do this, then it should not be put in importance above other programs that can.

  5. NathanielZhu profile image64
    NathanielZhuposted 12 years ago

    School should definitly focus more on the sciences: Biology, Chemistry, physics, etc
    Why? Simply because they are the study of the truth. It is about the world we live and is something we can not ignore. It impacts our lives in the present and future obviously because we live in this world and so we should know more about it.

    If there's anything to get rid of, it's English. Personally, I slept through every english class and got an A. It's such a worthless class beyond knowing the basics. There's no reason why we should waste so much of our lives doing something we do every day. The study of the literature itself is pointless. It's essentially trying to find meaning where there is none. It's taking the author's work far beyond the author's original intention. Quite frankly, if I was the author, I would find it very annoying.

    Some might then attribute the "art" of literature to that of music and say why not cut out music? No. There is no evidence that prolonged Englishes classes influence intelligence. Like I said, I slept through it and got an A, however there is strong evidence that playing a musical instrument trains both hemispheres of the brain mainly because playing music is something that requires active thought whereas English merely plays around with what we already know almost innately and so, it barely taxes the mind at all. I can tell you that sight-reading hard piano music is more taxing on the mind than math problems.

  6. ThoughtSandwiches profile image73
    ThoughtSandwichesposted 12 years ago

    The removal of literature from the English curriculum standards of High School students, to be replaced, presumably, with a skill based writing grammar program does a disservice to young aspiring minds and would serve to remove the soul from the discipline. 
    Additionally, I fail to see how taking the “fun” stuff out of English, to leave only the sad detris of that noble field--nasty grammar, will engender any savings as you would still need a teacher to teach a now overcrowded Communication Skills course.  If your goal is to concentrate on writing skills for an increasingly illiterate (at least as regards the written word) populace, those efforts would bear far more fruit when stressed at the lower grade levels.  Regardless, if you wish to write well…you read well.  Why would you take those arrows from the student’s academic quiver? 
    As a former history teacher I appreciate your nod to the relevance of that subject, however, it is simply unequal to the task of inculcating an adequate  sense of the literary culture of a civilization whilst addressing the necessary standards of our own field within the time frame of an academic year.  Perhaps cuts should be obtained out side the classroom?  Administrator salaries, perhaps?  Football?

    1. mathsciguy profile image59
      mathsciguyposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I'm not saying it ought to be cut out entirely; just that Literature, as it stands currently in schools, doesn't perform the functions expected of a subject that is required for students to take at every level.  I'm saying that Literature is, while useful and important, is not really giving the kind of return that merits all of the pedestal-placing that gets done in its name. 
      Furthermore, (and this may have stronger bearing on the discussion we are having) I am speaking from a High School perspective.  Obviously, it is important to leave Reading at an emphasized level in the early grades, since this will provide a foundation for future learning in other subjects.  After a certain point, however, "Reading" becomes "Reading Ethan Frome and Jane Eyre," and loses the relevance it had at the early levels of education.  It just doesn't make sense to me that English/Literature is required for every student to take every  year of High School, and neither Science nor History are.  Now, most counselors will schedule students to have a section of Science or History each year, I know, but the fact that it isn't required cuts down the emphasis on resource allocation to these actually-relevant-to-the-real-world-because-they-actually-are-true subjects.  I'm afraid I just don't get the reasoning behind this.

  7. earnestshub profile image79
    earnestshubposted 12 years ago

    I have too little understanding of the American education system to make an intelligent choice, but the one thing I notice about education in general is that it does not teach children how to learn.

    I cover that at home as much as I can for youngest son and my Gkids,

    I went back to education after establishing my business, and found the university professors to be near useless at teaching, and kids coming out of uni with a degree and no ability to use it.

  8. thisisoli profile image69
    thisisoliposted 12 years ago

    Pull out of the middle east, cut back on military.

    Education is pittence compared to military spending for ROI.

    1. Kangaroo_Jase profile image72
      Kangaroo_Jaseposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      For which country Oli?

  9. R.S. Hutchinson profile image70
    R.S. Hutchinsonposted 12 years ago

    How to write and the art of the sale.

  10. Uninvited Writer profile image78
    Uninvited Writerposted 12 years ago

    I have to add that i learned a hell of a lot more about writing from reading classic literature than all the grammar courses i ever took. If you want to cut anything sports should be first.

  11. K9keystrokes profile image83
    K9keystrokesposted 12 years ago

    Reading is a must, I agree with UV regarding the best way to learn proper English, and grasp the correct use of grammar; classic literature. The current manner being approached screams of failure when we consider how many students struggle with literacy in the USA alone. The entire school system needs to be restructured in Amercia. We should take a good look at the UK; it seems they have a pretty darn successful educational outcome.

    The biggest problem is that our children have been paying the price for oversized classes and under paid teacher's for long enough. Something has got to change.

  12. habee profile image92
    habeeposted 12 years ago

    As a retired high school English/lit/writing teacher, those subjects are the LAST that should be cut!! They use reading, writing, and communication skills in every other subject and will continue to use those skills throughout life. The classics and other forms of quality literature teach cause and effect, human nature, grammar, word choice, critical thinking, and even history.

  13. profile image0
    WildIrisposted 12 years ago

    To abandon the chronology of history and to instead teach history as thematic course would devastate historical understanding. Students would loose sight of which came first the American Revolution or the French Revolution, nor would students grasp how the present builds on the past.

    English=Reading and writing about literature. English classes are essential to understanding what it means to be human.

    What you propose would greatly reduce the quality of education.

    Administrators and teacher's salaries should be more equal. Administrator salaries are sometimes double the salary of a teacher. At times this is merited and at times it lacks merit.

    What you propose would move our country backwards not forward into the future.

  14. kateperez profile image59
    kateperezposted 12 years ago


    Your logic makes perfect sense to me, too.

    Education is more than the three R's (plus History).  It is supposed to be a social and intellectual experiment toward the betterment of our future as people in a society.

    Taking physical education and music away from children takes away their favorite part of the day: removal from the books and words.

    Poetry and literature wake up the mind and inspire the senses.  When we remove prose and poetry from schools then we remove the ways that people communicate: through the written word (much like this forum).

    Removing any part of the curriculum is dangerous as it all has its purpose.  I hated geography and would have loved to not have it as a class but it came in handy when I grew up. 

    Economic courses are important, and math is important.  Reading and MORE grammar are necessary.  History is important because as we've seen lately, there doesn't seem to be proper attention given to past mistakes.

    What can we cut?  How about the fluff?  Administrators where I live make 3 times what a teacher makes, in addition to cars in some cases.  Turn the A/C down 2 degrees, those schools are much too cold.  Put timers on light switches and put motion detectors in hallways for the lights to be on only when someone is in there.  Same with the restrooms.  Remove one person from the front office of each school.  Text books (especially in elementary schools) are not all that necessary.  I'm pretty certain teachers have internet access.  Get what you need from educational sites, and print it out.  Need paper?  Have the parents buy a couple reams of paper.  I provide reams of paper for the school.

    There are so many cost cutting tips.  How about those teachers who make over 40,000 a year (which is bad, but better than I am currently bringing in) pay a portion of their health and retirement, like any private-sector citizen?  I appreciate teachers.  I use teachers to this day as I am in higher education, however they are not gods and goddesses, they are tax payers and it would be great if they tried to carry a bit of the load that others are paying. 

    Heck, the government makes their military pay for their insurance (tri-care is not free to them), yet teachers and other public-sector employees do not.  How good is that?

    1. habee profile image92
      habeeposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Teachers DO pay for part of their health insurance. I pay almost $300 a month for mine. And, of course, I have a co-pay when I see a doctor or get a prescription filled.

      I think administrators make too much, in general. Our prinicipals make well over $100,000. So do head coaches.

  15. chrispwnz profile image60
    chrispwnzposted 12 years ago

    I think trade's should be more emphasized in high school, or at least some encouragement of going to trade schools. Most of high school and college is all theoretical knowledge, and sometimes never applicable in the "real world". A class that would teach general information about a few trades or options of going to trade school could help people find their true passion, and excel in that.

  16. profile image0
    klarawieckposted 12 years ago

    If you want to cut something, then cut the amount of new textbooks that are required per student. Someone is getting very, very rich! Every year is a new edition that has the exact amount of information as the old one but on a different page.

    1. K9keystrokes profile image83
      K9keystrokesposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Go one step better with this concern klara; switch all textbooks to eBooks and thus truly reduce the cost of eductional materials!

      1. profile image0
        klarawieckposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        No, then they'll have to find the money for some sort of tablet or more computers. They'll make their money somehow, you know?

        1. K9keystrokes profile image83
          K9keystrokesposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          You may well be correct Klara, it seems the politics of educating our children is becoming a game of monitary gain more than ever!

          1. Cagsil profile image69
            Cagsilposted 12 years agoin reply to this

            Actually worse than just that K9. hmm That's the real shame of it.

  17. Greek One profile image64
    Greek Oneposted 12 years ago

    SEO research and getting rich 5 cents at a time

    1. profile image0
      klarawieckposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      We should all be learning Greek!

  18. IzzyM profile image86
    IzzyMposted 12 years ago

    I certainly wouldn't cut English classes at secondary level, and would seek to increase them at primary level. I might be talking Dutch to Americans here, but in Scotland childen aged 5 - 11 go to Primary School and then on to Secondary School (the big school) for their main education where they can learn music arts etc as well as chemistry, biology, physics, cooking, woodwork, sports etc.

    Children learn their basic grammar and spelling at primary level - ages 5 - 11. If they then go on to Secondary without that basic, they are goosed, because no secondary teacher is going to give them basic spelling classes - secondary English is all about the classics etc and understanding of prose that is out of date, like Shakespeare.

    Take music, art, sports and everything else out of the equation. They have their place, and a very important one, but none more so than basic English. Well apart from basic Math, because the sheer number of school-leavers who can't count is appalling.

  19. profile image0
    Sherlock221bposted 12 years ago

    Science, is I believe one of the most important subjects for children to be taught from a young age.  It is the best way of understanding the world we live in, and the best hope for preventing ignorance or religious extremism.

  20. profile image0
    klarawieckposted 12 years ago

    If they keep cutting the arts soon the kids won't have anything to write about. sad

  21. superhubby profile image59
    superhubbyposted 12 years ago

    I would say Civics, Economics, Nutrition and History. Americans are nutritionally illiterate to ad nauseam. Home-schooling should be a viable Right and option too.

  22. Reality Bytes profile image75
    Reality Bytesposted 12 years ago

    Since ignorance of the law is no excuse for violating the law perhaps it would help citizens if they are taught something of the laws they are required to follow.


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