ROTHENBURGER: The eternal question – what should be taught in school?

(Image: CFJC Today)

I LEARNED A LOT of useless stuff (or, as Paul Simon put it, “crap”) in high school.

More accurately, my teachers tried to teach me; sometimes I didn’t learn much of it.

The issue of what should and shouldn’t be taught in school is a bit of a topic in the Kamloops-Thompson School Board election campaign.

One candidate wants certain books banned, and criticizes sex education.

Another wants more focus on mental health. And another thinks investing and entrepreneurship should be taught. And so on.

What should and shouldn’t be taught in school has been debated ever since Socrates declared he had nothing at all to teach. His only job, he said, was to seek answers.

When I was in school, I was forced to sit in a lot of classes I had no use for. Algebra, for example.


Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (9652 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

6 Comments on ROTHENBURGER: The eternal question – what should be taught in school?

  1. Robert George // September 29, 2022 at 1:07 PM // Reply

    Thanks Mel, I didn’t have the dagger before my hand bit, and Pierre I feel badly in that I did not know algebra from trigonometry but I have passed the average life span of 80 by 7,have a tire changer I still use for myself and my friends. 200 bucks at an auction in Clearwater a few years ago. Got a wheel balancer too. You bet.

  2. Come on Mel! Surely you must have looked for the hypotenuse, a squared +b squared = c squared, and finding x, another common one. I,m really astounded you have reached the man you are without them. And then there is 1066. Everybody knows that one. You know,Harold and the arrow and all that.Biology and chemistry was out,although Kenny Smith and I, along with the Chinese, and much to the chagrin of some of the neighbours, discovered the magic of black powder,Miss Taylor taught me to hem stitch and sew on buttons,talents I sometimes still use and Miss Higgenbottom used to read us Ivonhoe at the beginning of each class. Shakespeare I liked, ” Is this a dagger I see before me?” etc. Miss Langeridge,another lovely lady tried her best to stuff French into me,and I did remember some of it during my stay in a communist oriented youth hostel in Monmarte.The place was lousy with bedbugs. We ,Ron and I finally in our bad French,procured from an amused druggist some poudre pour le puce,and it worked, We used to.Ron and I , count how long a costumer stayed in the cathouse up in the same block as the Moulon Rouge.We travelled in Spain and went to North Africa Interesting stuff.Ron is retired in Boise Idaho and was a banker. How much French, he,an educated man used in that occupation I do not know.We keep in touch but use English.
    All in all it was great education. I forgot Miss Neate. In grade six I was in her very successful school choir. I was a little bugger but I could sing. We won first place at the Hotel Vancouver.Three of her former pupils went on to be opera singers and she gave me a further interest in classical music.I had started the fiddle at age 5. I also like Waylon,Willie and Kris.
    I do agree on your opinions on education.

  3. What should be taught is to grasp an understanding of the world micro and macro phenomenas regarding life and finances and respect, broadly. But for sure the essence…keep asking, continue reading and make it fun.

  4. Sean McGuinness // September 24, 2022 at 3:49 PM // Reply

    If they replace Algebra with Politics in schools, then I’m leaving this country.

    What is the value of studying e.g. Philosophy? First of all, define “value”, which is a philosophical question in itself. For humans who toil on the earth for an average lifespan of 80 years or so, would it be so remarkable that we didn’t ponder bigger questions than how to fix a flat tire? You have quoted Socrates. Why? Because he was a thinker who saw that mundane questions lead to something bigger. Newton’s laws are as much a philosophical breakthrough as a scientific one. Where will we be if our future Newtons only study what some narrow-minded people define to be “important”?

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