39 Folks In This Online Group Reveal 39 Things They Were Taught In School Yet Don’t Understand Why

School is all about learning things, and the more you learn, the smarter you’ll be, right? Well, some don’t really agree that everything taught in schools is actually useful in life.

Folks on AskReddit have been listing and discussing things and topics that are taught in schools that are actually pretty, if not completely, useless given what you actually end up using in real life.

Reddit user u/highnrgy asked the lovely people of Reddit what’s the most useless thing they teach in school?, getting over 17,700 responses with nearly 35,000 upvotes on the post.

Bored Panda has gathered the best responses and turned it into a neat curated list below, so be sure to scroll through it and give your two cents on the topic in the comment section.

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In my experience, the way gym and PE were taught were pretty useless because they never taught us how to train or improve our athletic abilities. It was just weeks of half heartedly playing basketball with minimal adult supervision, and then one day we had to run a mile and the coaches would go out of their way to humiliate anyone who couldn't just get up and run a mile under 10 minutes with no training or preparation. It put me off running and exercise in general for a long time.

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That your entire self worth is based off of a letter and score.

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That you have to "ignore" bullies and/or forgive them. In real outside world if you bully someone you will:

- Get slapped across the face
- Get kicked in your butt
- Fired from work Or
- Shunned and made fun of.

Image credits: SilentZ0ne


That classical literature is the end all be all of reading. I get some books have cultural significance, but that doesn't warrant a 6 week in depth analysis of a book kids can't relate to, with most being about challenges they will never face, culminating in an essay that's basically "I understood it" repeated over and over backed up by quotes.

If you want your kids to never touch a book in their lives ever again, THAT is how you do it.

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I graduated in 1991 for context and, while living in Phoenix, they taught us square dancing in gym class. I must say though that the most useful skill that I was taught at that school that I use every single day is typing.

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"The bell doesn't dismiss you; I do."

Of course the bell dismisses you. What you're being prepared for, however, is a lifetime of bosses telling you that coming in 15 minutes before your shift, and staying 10 minutes after, doesn't count as overtime and doesn't need to be paid. That it's okay to violate that safety rule on-site because OSHA isn't paying you, I am, and the customer is waiting on you.

Basically, anytime an authority figure isn't following the rules they themselves set for everyone, you are being trained to accept that behavior in your adult life.

Image credits: SweaterZach


This is going to sound stupid, but history the way it's taught is basically meaningless.

A long category of dates and events without context or real discussion. The vast majority of history is trivia, because the real story is the cyclical nature of events, the rise and fall of empires, the periods of enlightenment and advance and the reactionary times that bookend them.

You learn that there used to be this thing called "yellow journalism" but you don't learn that what kicked it off was the sudden availability and popularity of newspapers, and nobody draws the EXTREMELY OBVIOUS parallel to our modern blog driven media. If I told you that in the mid to late 1800s (when newsprint was blowing up) that it was extremely common for papers to blatantly copy each others stories with added editorial bias tailored to their viewers...Sounds a little familiar, doesn't it?

Drawing parallels between the robber barons of the late 1800s and the current ones. Drawing parallels between the labor movements of that era, and the ones that are growing again today. S!@#s relevant, and important to realize in context.

But no. Just memorize some f!@#$%g dates and names, so you'll have some s!@t to spout at trivia night later.

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That learning how to pass tests is more important than actually gaining knowledge.

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“Cheaters never prosper.” Yeah cheating is bad, but trust me, they prosper.

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Sex and drug education. The entire lesson plan is:

"Just don't do it."

F!@#$%g bulls!@t.

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I feel like almost everything has some value, but I really really wished that they taught highschool classes on Operating Systems, Excel, and an introduction to programming and logic.

I learned it all in college, but Excel saved me a ton of time on homework. Programming played a much greater role than I could have imagined, and highschool left me unprepared for that.

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‘You won’t have a calculator in your pocket in the real world!’

Yes, I know how do do math, I’m an engineer and I like math theory, I promise I’m not a brain dead mobile addict.

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The tongue/taste map. Not only useless, but incorrect.

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In the U.S., probably the Pledge of Allegiance.

We did that every day from first grade through 12th grade. Let's say it took a minute per day. That's five minutes a week. Every 12 weeks, that's an hour. You're in school roughly 36 weeks a year, so that's 3 hours a year. Multiplied by 12 years and that's about 36 hours of your youth academic career spent talking to a flag.

Image credits: HomelessCosmonaut


The way the US public school system teaches it, Spanish. You learn it maybe half a year then forget it over the summer. You’d think with years of education we’d be better Spanish speakers but it’s essentially useless the way it’s taught.

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They taught competitive cup stacking in my elementary school. Still have no idea why. This was in central Canada, but clearly it was widespread across a lot of North America.

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hizzoze said:
That hiding under your desk will keep you safe from bombs and tornadoes. (Yes I know what it's actually for, it's just always been a silly visual.)

vegdeg responded:
That wasn't the lesson you could have learned.

The real lesson was that people tend to panic, and panicking causes unpredictable and dangerous behavior. When you drill an action that makes a population feel like they have self control over a situation, they will tend to follow that.

Same as with patients and a disease - so often there is conflict between clinician and patient because the clinician will see it as the patient not being able to do anything (medically proven at least) - whereas the patient is looking for some agency, some self control over a situation, even if that is drinking carrot juice or whatever. This helps explain the multitude of holistic medicines and why they are popular - because there is always something you can do (or feel like there is) to have agency in a difficult situation.

As others have said - the lesson wasn't always literally the subject matter/what was being taught.

Image credits: hizzoze


They mostly taught us to ask permission in order to use the bathroom.

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I was taught that Columbus knew that the world was round, but everyone else thought it was flat. So, yeah... That.

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That conduct grades matter. I have a friend whose child got a "needs improvement" conduct grade. WTF is that about? If her 8 year old is causing problems, address it then. Why wait 9 weeks and slip it onto the report card? My friend is also a teacher and completely agreed with me. I got plenty of "unsatisfactory" conduct grades in school and yet I still managed to get a college degree and have a career. Screw that nonsense.

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I grew up in Massachusetts, so maybe this is skewed because of the proximity to early settler and revolutionary war sites, but EVERY year in history, from like 1st grade to 12th, we learned the same stuff on the early settlers to revolutionary war. That would be the majority of all history classes. Yes, it’s very important history (and I do thoroughly enjoy history and that time period in particular) but when it’s all that’s covered and everything else is glossed over, it doesn’t feel like we learned as much as we should have. It was also always taught through rose colored glasses.

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They don't do it anymore, but back around 2000 in health class we all had to plan a wedding. Like, pair up and budget out a rental space, food, rings, etc.

Looking back: What. The. F@#k?

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Hi, language teacher in the uk.

This is more what they don't teach but....

They often teach the rise of the British empire but seldom about the fall. Which leads students with a very British centric approach to a lot of their studies. I'm aware of this in languages but I've seen this in history, RE and even English language. I'm not blaming the teachers or the students, the curriculum is f!@#$d. But as a result from this I hear way too often "learning X language is pointless, everyone speaks English!"

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Cursive. I have never used it outside of signing my name.

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How to say and spell antidisestablishmentarianism.


For me it was social studies, specifically politics that only really focuses on the 50s-70s and ignores everything else and tries to use the period of time where people literally couldn't lose money on anything and use it to justify trickle down economics of today's society as a good blueprint for running a country.

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My biology teacher was supposed to teach us evolution, but had us memorize a bunch of birds in the process?

A pop quiz would be him walking into the classroom with a boombox, hitting play, and he'd play some chirping noises that he recorded himself. He'd ask us to write down the scientific name of the bird. Or he'd show us a drawing of a bird and tell us to write down the common name of it. It was a mix.

But that's it. There wasn't any question about evolution on the quiz at all. It was entirely about memorizing birds.

This was the class that broke me. When we studied the cell, I got a 97 for the semester. When we studied evolution, I felt like a dog jumping through a hoop on command and decided I wasn't going to memorize birds. F@#k you, flunk me.

I would leave the quizzes blank on purpose.

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American history. For gawd's sake most americans can't find one other country on the map so why keep navel gazing, why not teach students about other countries, culture, and language? Met some guy in grad school who was doing his thesis on General Hooker's buttons. Why, just why?


According to my son, apparently everything...

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My 1st grade teacher told us if you go outside and stand really still, you can feel the earth rotating...


The amount they teach shakespeare. Like, sure once is probably good, not every year grade 9 to 12.

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My secondary school made us all take religion up to GCSE level, that was so f!@#$%g pointless especially when you had limited choices on what subjects you could take.

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Memorizing the specific names for groups of animals (gander of geese, murder of crows, etc.)

I knew some ESL friends that had to memorize them for English classes.

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Three simple words... "Five paragraph essays."

English being the only class that is/was required during all four years of high school, we had it constantly drilled into our heads that it was the only way to submit short papers and that we would need to perfect the application if we wanted to succeed in collage.

First day of Comm 101 in collage while the professor was going over the syllabus, and that everything needed to be submitted in MLS format, someone asked what MLS was. The professor stopped, "Let me say this to all of you that graduated high school last year and are just starting your collegiate lives... if ANYONE turns in a paper in five paragraph format you will fail the assignment."

Found out from everyone I knew that was taking other professors for English or Communication classes that they got told the same thing.


We were living in south Jersey at the time the Eagles went to the super bowl in 2004. And my elementary school taught us the eagles fight song.

Had a whole school assembly by grade level to teach us the Philadelphia Eagles fight song and we weren’t dismissed til we all knew it.


We had to sift through owl pellets (aka owl puke) to find and reassemble shrew skeletons. I guess if I’m ever called on to identify a shrew mandible, I will delete this post.


MLA formatting


I still have yet to encounter algebra in the real world despite my math teacher’s insistence that it would be something I’d use every day. Coming up on my tenth anniversary of the last time I’ve even seen an algebraic equation let alone use one.


UnlicencedAccountant said:
I before E, except after C.

SICRA14 responded:
Now off to s*cie*nce class

LuigiTheMaster also responded:
With Mr. *Kei*th