I still remember asking that question about so many subjects in high school and college- particularly in math. I couldn’t see why I would ever to figure the area of a triangle or the volume of a cubic rectangle. Or the classic stumper of two trains leaving at different times and traveling at different speeds and when would they meet?
Why should I actually care about how a cell is comprised (or that the mitochondria is the “powerhouse of the cell”… I still remember that, and it still has given me literally zero benefit in any area of my life whatsoever). So much of my formal education was made up of a lot of little bits of information whose sole purposed seemed to be in helping me get an acceptable grade on a test… grades… don’t even get me started.
When I was still a professional teacher, I would semi-regularly get the question, “Is this going to be graded?” I don’t think I ever really flipped out, but I am sure that I did give several sermons about intrinsic value and such.
The interesting thing to me is that, in the process of creating this homestead as we want it to be, I find myself in NEED of information that was supposed to be valuable to me 15-20 years ago but wasn’t and so never really internalized.
The point isn’t that traditional schooling methods presented me with bad information. The point is that it was presented with a combination of bad timing and bad application. Timing and Application. Give me that lesson about how to calculate cubic yardage when I need to estimate the cost of pouring a concrete garage floor or filling my raised garden beds with dirt. I use mathematical skills measurement, finding area and volume, perimeter, etc., ALL THE TIME! because I build and plan and consider. But without a meaningful application (which I was lacking before) learning about how to do those things is time wasted.
So now what? Rail and complain about the lack of effectiveness of our school systems? OR do things differently?
I am happy to say that each one of my raised garden beds will, with dimensions of 4′ x 8′ x 1′, require just over one cubic yard of black dirt. A local landscaping company sells topsoil for $22/yard. We are looking at about $90 worth of dirt for the four beds. 32 square feet in each bed. One cabbage per square foot. 4 cabbages per 1/2 gallon of sauerkraut. 4 beds can grow 128 cabbages. We’re looking at roughly 16 gallons of sauerkraut worth of cabbages. $7 per quart of naturally fermented sauerkraut at the store. 4 quarts in a gallon. $28/gallon of store bought sauerkraut. My sauerkraut would cost about $5.75/ gallon. And I only have to by the dirt once. So next year it will just be the cost of seeds, which is negligible.
The math tells me it’s worth it. And NOW I see how it’s worth learning math. I am happy that I can be learning and creating with my children, and not just stuck in complaining.