Is school useful?
School is not the best place to learn, just the easiest.
- - One of the problems people have with school, particularly the public school system, is that it presents (or pushes) a wide variety of information and skills that MOST people do not use ALL of. This is largely because, nobody really knows which skills each student will ultimately need.
For example, not everybody needs to use algebra to accomplish their goals in adult life, but some people do. It is impossible to look at an eighth grader and tell whether he/she will need algebra (or trigonometry or calculus) to accomplish their dreams or advance technology, so we teach it to all of them, just in case.
We teach all sorts of stuff to everybody just in case it provides options to life paths they want to follow.
- - This brings us to the problem that schools do not teach enough vocational skills that are oriented to more specific capabilities. If you do not want to go to college, then the modern public school curriculum does not help you much. There is almost never any training in auto mechanics, welding, construction, carpentry, or anything immediately transferable into being able to make a living.
The fact that school is all predicated on preparing students for university or trade schools is a serious problem. If after 13 years of free and appropriate education, all the students are qualified for is more school, then everybody wasted a lot of time.
- - One problem people have with the school system is the standardized testing.
These tests are designed to check whether students are successfully learning the curriculum, and the tests are generally effective at measuring that.
The real problem is that school districts do nothing useful with the results. They do not use them to guide instruction or determine whether students advance to the next grade or not.
The too-common result is teaching to the tests instead of developing the skills and capabilities the tests are meant to measure.