Ask any elementary school student, and he or she will affirm that making up stories is fun. And since Stephen King is quite wealthy from doing so, education and practice in fiction composition is not irrelevant to society. College students across all majors admit that fiction writing courses, whether electives or required, are among their very favorite. After all, you finally get to write what you should religion be taught in public schools essay to write, not some tedious, insipid essay about how Holden Caulfield is some brooding intellectual, an essay thoroughly devoid of anything interesting precisely because your teachers require you to examine the facts and draw your conclusions like a robot.
Shakespeare is showing us what happens if we give free rein to vengeance: our whole lives and those of all who are close to us are destroyed. When students in high school finish reading Hamlet—provided they have good teachers who can help them understand and appreciate it—most of them are sufficiently enthralled to try writing fiction—as well they should be. But most of them give up when their first stories turn out to be less great than those of Shakespeare. This is not due to middling talent, but an absence of instruction in fiction writing. Students are typically thought of as having naturally gifted minds for either liberal arts or math—but rarely both together. That’s probably not true, however. What in the world is the point?
In public school, students aren’t forced very often to apply mathematics to their daily lives. Those word problems about Trains A and B leaving the station don’t help at all. So let’s talk calculus: why is it such a great thing to know? Johannes Kepler plotted the courses of the sun and the planets, and hypothesized that a sort of weight must hold them in orbits around each other. It took him about twenty years to do this, largely by watching the night sky through a telescope. Newton did all this in a single afternoon—thanks to calculus. Calculus, as it should be taught, is the study of change with the aim of predicting it.
Sounds a little cooler that way, doesn’t it? You can predict the future with calculus. But what could be more dull than algebra and pre-calculus in high school? Not much, if the teaching is conducted entirely theoretically.
It would be a fine idea to give the students some hands-on experience inventing gadgets—using technology for what it does well, instead of merely learning about it on a chalkboard. Who wouldn’t want to invent a time machine? Well, it can still be a lot of fun trying, and in the process you’ll enjoy seeing just what the higher mathematics are capable of doing. Many public schools do offer drama classes as electives—but these usually focus on stage performance. As important as it is for any serious actor to know how to act in live shows, many of these students would very much like to try their hands at making motion pictures, yet don’t have an outlet for it. A lot of high school students would love to be directors, and most of them idolize Steven Spielberg.
He’s about as close to god as you can get in Tinsel Town. Spielberg did not formally study filmmaking until college. But imagine how much faster he would have progressed in his filmmaking abilities, had he been able to receive instruction in middle or high school. To be fair, geniuses of his caliber are typically self-taught—but proper instruction from a good teacher, along with diligent study, are far more reliable and desirable than raw talent and trial and error. For the mere mortals among us, enrolling in a filmmaking class in middle or high school is the most logical choice if we wish to pursue the dream. Such enrollment also offers us a fair chance of getting noticed by any of the bigwig connections the instructor may have. Spanish is particularly important to learn, but students have plenty of time to do that in college—and frankly, the amount of linguistic instruction they receive in high school doesn’t really prepare them for a collegiate education in that language.
This lister chose French in high school because it sounded more beautiful—but by the time college rolled around, he had forgotten about eighty percent of it. When he took College French level one, the first half of the course was effectively a refresher of high school. So is it a waste of time trying to learn a language before college? Latin is bit more difficult than French or Spanish, but not by much. Of all the Romance languages, Italian is probably the trickiest—but if you’ve got a good foundation on Latin, any other Romance language will be a walk in the park. This lister didn’t bother going back to French in college until he had four years of Latin behind him.
Then he needed only one summer to master reading and writing French. Speaking it, of course, requires listening to it for a few years, but once you reach that point it’ll be locked in very well. So if the goal in learning foreign languages is to master as many as possible, why not start on one of the largest foundations available? But many of us—whether still in public school or college, or out working for a living—remain in the dark about the finer points of most of the world’s major religions.
If we are to have long, heated debates about the merits of this or that religion, or of having no religion, it is only fair that we should familiarize ourselves with the ins and outs of each—and we should do this in depth. What are the founding tenets of Satanism? If religion is such an integral and insoluble aspect of our species, it would be better if we understood the content of as many as we can learn. We must be realistic about how much complexity and abstraction teenage students can be expected to digest and comprehend. Philosophy—complex as its ideas may sometimes be—is very important and relevant to our daily lives.