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Teacher Was Right

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The editors at Best Master's in Education decided to research the topic of

Your Teacher Was Right

Think you don't use algebra in your everyday life? Then you must never have to decide how much gasoline to put in your car's tank. And that frog you dissected in biology? You probably don't work as a professional frog dissector, but you should have picked up a basic understanding of bodily systems that applies directly to your own physiology.


The wonderful world of high school science for many students included physics, biology and chemistry.


Lesson: Dissect frog, study internal systems

Frogs and humans share many of the same basic organs: heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, stomach, brain, intestines. Since you can't dissect humans in science class, teachers use proxies like frogs and pigs to help students see parallels with their own bodies. And those parallels may well come in handy when you're heading in for surgery and are able to ask smart questions of the doctor because you have a firm grasp of what's going on inside your own body.


Lesson: Study reaction of mixing substances

Unless you run a meth lab, your application of chemistry probably won't cause an explosion - but only if you know what types of substances shouldn't be mixed. Say you're trying to ramp up the cleaning power of the bleach under your sink. So you reach for the vinegar. Bad idea. You may slightly improve the disinfectant power of your cleaner, but you'll also release toxic chlorine gas.


Lesson: Study velocity and trajectory

You're playing football on Saturday afternoon with your friends. You're the quarterback; the ball is snapped to you, and you have two open receivers: one about 10 yards away and the other about 30 yards away. You want to hit the guy downfield, but you can't throw him a pass of the same speed and arc as the player who's closer to you. But lofting the ball a little higher and putting more force behind the throw could mean a touchdown.


Apart from the obviously helpful lessons English teaches (speaking and writing English), the study of language and communication can help you understand how to deal with people who speak another language or even your teenager who's trying to get out of a punishment.


Lesson: Study etymology

Maybe you took French in high school instead of Spanish, but you live in an area with a large Spanish-speaking population. Your immersion in French, as well as English, should have taught you the building blocks of some Spanish words. So you should probably know that the Latin word unus means one in English, uno in Spanish and une in French. You should also know that the Latin word caballus developed into caballo in Spanish, cavalry in English and cheval in French, which all are related to horses.


Lesson: Study verbal and non-verbal communication

Your training in observing body language and spotting mixed messages will come in handy when you are flirting with someone at a bar or trying to figure out whether your teenage son is lying about whether he took your car out for a joyride.


Lesson: Write a term paper arguing in favor of your topic of choice

Aside from allowing you to earn an A+ on those composition papers, learning how to write well-structured arguments will serve you well even if you aren't a journalist or attorney. Want to argue a claim against an insurance company? Better be able to make cogent points and support them with facts. Trying to get a job? If you studied and worked hard in English, your cover letter is going to stand out among the crowd.


A strong basic math education may serve you better than almost any other school subject, particularly when it comes to finances and decision-making. Computers and calculators can't do everything for us; we still need brains that can deduce and reason effectively, and mathematics help train our brains to think logically.


Lesson: Solve 35 equations (show your work)

Say gas is over $4 a gallon where you live and you have only $25 to spend. How will you figure out how much to pump? You may not realize it, but your mind is creating an equation to solve the problem. With X representing the number of gallons you can purchase, your mind should be able to quickly formulate and solve this simple equation: 25/4=x.

Basic math

Lesson: Subtract, divide and multiply

You're baking cupcakes to take to your child's school when one of the other parents calls and asks you to bake enough cupcakes for 10 more kids. If you paid attention in math class, you'll be able to make quick adjustments to your ingredients that will ensure the new cupcakes will be just as delicious as the first batch because the balance of ingredients will be the same.


Lesson: Figure rate of change

Want to know how long it will take to pay off your student loan or credit card bill? That's calculus. Ready to get into the stock market? You'll use calculus to figure out which investment will deliver the best return. If you have an education grounded in calculus, you won't have to rely on a financial adviser (or calculator) to make your own decisions.



Lesson: Study mental illness

Is that lingering sadness just the blues or something deeper? Is your relationship with your mother strained because you resent the time she spent at work? Are the things that give you anxiety being passed on to your kids? Psychology can help us understand the causes of our own behavior (and the behavior of others). Someone quick to anger can calm that instinct by understanding why it happens.


Lesson: Study the Electoral College

Wondering why the candidate of your choice (ahem, Al Gore voters) didn't win the presidency despite winning a higher percentage of the country's total votes? If you'd studied the Electoral College, you might still be angry about the system, but at least you'd know that each state gets a certain number of votes based on their population in the Electoral College and it's those votes (not necessarily the overall popular vote) that determine which person will reside in the White House.


Lesson: Study state history

Aside from the hackneyed, "Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it," understanding that what has come before and why are two of the keys to making an education decision for yourself. Studying history may make you want to live in a particular state or city; it may make you choose a particular occupation or political ideology.


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