What I Learned in High School (Or Didn’t)

I was thinking about my compulsory education recently – high school in particular. And I was trying to remember a single thing that it taught me. I thought long and hard.  Truly.

What did I learn in high school?

After much deliberation, here’s what I came up with:

Wait for it …

Wait for it …

  1. Nothing.

The end.

I can’t remember a single thing that I was taught in high school and I haven’t used anything I learned in high school as an adult.


Yes, I took math classes and I did well in them, but I can’t remember any of those super-applicable equations now, and I’ve never had to use math past elementary level as an adult.  And often times I use a calculator to do that!


Yes, I took history classes, and did well in them, but I hardly remember a single nugget of it. The history I do have in my noggin is from stuff that I pursued as an adult because I was interested in it. All that I can recall of my world history class in ninth grade is that the teacher really liked history, that we took an insane amount of notes, and that I really liked a boy in that class. Great.


Yes, I took literature classes and did well in them, but I hated grammar lessons and I thought the reading choices were too diluted and I hated analyzing literature. Sometimes a guy fishing is just a guy fishing, you know?


Yes, I took science classes and did well in them, but I remember one percent or less of all the biology, physical science, or chemistry that I “learned.” And haven’t suffered for the loss at all.


Out of all of my four years of high school, the only thing I can come up with that may have been useful are my Spanish classes. And it was the only class I ever failed! (Because I simply was not motivated.) I still cannot speak Spanish, but I at least understand some of it and am familiar with it, phonetically.

That’s. It. The only thing I learned in high school was elementary Spanish.  

  • I did not learn how to change a diaper. I learned that from having a baby.
  • I did not learn how to balance a checkbook. I learned that from having a checking account.
  • I did not learn how to pay bills. I learned that by being independent.
  • I did not learn how to cook. I learned that by burning stuff.
  • I did not learn how to be a writer. I learned that by doing it.
  • I did not learn about nutrition. I learned that by reading voraciously as an adult.
  • I did not learn about parenting, or vaccines, or the benefits of breastfeeding.
  • I did not learn how to clean my house…
  • I did not learn about social media because it didn’t exist yet.

I certainly didn’t learn about God or discipleship or my spiritual gifts.

I did learn quite the repertoire of bad words though …

So . . . remind me again, why do we make our children “learn” all those things that the mass majority of them are never going to use again?

This is why, when people worry that Unschooling high schoolers might be “behind” or have gaps in their education I think:

“So what! Who cares if they aren’t force-fed and then tested on something they’re never going to need again anyway.”

That’s my 2 cents, at least.

I understand that some people do in fact use a least a small portion of what they learned in high school as an adult.  Like, to write college papers or something?  So, be honest – do you think the majority of your high school years were well spent?

~ Jessica

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