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burntbonez's avatar

For you, what are the most important areas of study?

Asked by burntbonez (5202points) January 21st, 2013

Not your favorite, but your most important. What has meant the most to you in your life? Mattered the most? Been the most helpful? And why?

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24 Answers

Pachy's avatar

English lit and grammar, journalism and the Arts.

bookish1's avatar

OK, I won’t say history, I promise.
I think both English and philosophy have helped me the most, in determining my approach to history and preparing me for a career in the humanities.

Seek's avatar

The most important in general: earth and life sciences: Biology, medicine, environmental sciences, etc. Know what makes life tick so we can make sure it keeps ticking.

Meant the most to me, personally: History, literature, religious studies.

Been the most helpful to me personally: Astronomy and biology. It was easier to give up religion when I had the magic of reality to fall back on.

glacial's avatar

English, physics, biology.

Yeahright's avatar

I have to say Languages, Psychology, and Cultural studies. They have been the most helpful in both my personal life and career wise. I have been able to understand other cultures from a young age and know that no one country or culture is better but just different from one another. I have also been able to access information from primary sources and understand other cultures’ point of view. Through Psychology I have been able to reflect about my behavior and understand other people’s behavior as well.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Philosophy, ethics, sociology, women’s studies, studies of race and colonialism.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

The grammar and structure of one’s native language.

About 42% of U.S. high school graduates are functionally illiterate in English. No, they’re not purely illiterate—they can read and write, and they don’t sign “X” on the line—but they lack the proficiency needed to function beyond a simple level. They can’t write cohesive texts organized into sentences and paragraphs. They’re unable to read something analytically. Colleges and universities now require two semesters of basic English; not that long ago, these skills were learned by the 8th grade.

There’s a staggering link between functional illiteracy and crime/poverty. 43% of adults at the lowest levels of literacy subsist below the poverty line, as compared to 4% of those with high literacy. 75% of food stamp recipients can’t read or write proficiently. Teenage girls with below-average literacy skills are 6 times more likely to have out-of -wedlock children than their more literate peers.

Yeahright's avatar

^The correlation of illiteracy and poverty is one of the elements that are frequently mentioned when addressing the issue, but such correlation has not been totally proven and is therefore considered a myth by some authors.

bookish1's avatar

@Yeahright : I don’t think anyone needs to scientifically prove this correlation. In the U.S., if you go to a public school, the quality of the education and the teachers that the school can attract are largely determined by the tax base of the county. I have seen this time and time again as a teacher of college undergrads (at a prestigious public university; we get all kinds of students here). The kids from rich regions are over-prepared their freshman year of college, and the kids from poor regions sometimes can’t write complete sentences.

Yeahright's avatar

^Oh no no :) I was just commenting. I teach the stuff you know (but I’m no expert by any means), so I do need to check and recheck info (I’m sure you’ll appreciate the fact). You can look it up though. I will not derail this thread out of respect for @burntbonez. Thank you for doing the same. You are very welcome to PM me if you’d like.

Sunny2's avatar

For me, personally, Human Anatomy and Physiology. I know enough understand when something goes wrong and don’t fret the small stuff that scares some people.

mattbrowne's avatar

Cosmology, bioinformatics, green technology, positive psychology.

dxs's avatar

Math and Science, specifically biology. Studying languages is also useful and important, but I will never understand why Literature is in the “core curriculum”.
[addition]: You can’t forget history! I think it’s good to know history of your country along with a basic history of the world.

Yeahright's avatar

@dxs Knowing and speaking a language involves more than learning the lexicon and the grammar of that language (these are essentially functional aspects). It also involves understanding the way of thinking and knowing in general as much as possible of the culture behind the peoples that speak the language in question. Literature helps you to tackle all of the above. It provides excellent linguistic input and exposes you to real writing, to real use of the language thereby allowing you to acquire lexical and grammatical knowledge without actually having to study it as such. Literature also lets you know about the history, the politics, and the culture in general. Literature is used for very similar purposes in one’s native language.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@Yeahright I understand your point, but I’ve known too many students who read James Joyce before they’re capable of constructing a sentence.

I’ve taken courses at my local community college, just for fun and enrichment (although my courses did accidently turn into an A.A. degree; life’s little surprises!). I saw SO many students submit essays and papers in the form of one long, continous paragraph. These high school graduates/college students simply lacked the fundamental skills needed to organize their thoughts or write cohesively. An instructor asked me to help him read and grade some student papers; it was as if I were trying to dig for buried treasure without a map.

I became very grateful for all those times when I had to stand at a blackboard and parse.

dxs's avatar

@Yeahright I know enough English that I need to. I see Literature as an art class; studying the art of writing. The subjectivity of the class didn’t click with me, so it brought down my gpa.

Yeahright's avatar

@PaulSadieMartin I know what you mean. But, the fact that some students cannot write very well doesn’t mean that they cannot analyze a novel or any other piece of writing, even if only in their minds and are not yet able to put it in writing. Good reading leads to good writing. Reading leaves a sort of a print in their minds and even though they are not conscious of what they are learning they are exposed to good structure and grammar, and will eventually replicate that in their own writing. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it helps.
@dxs Yeah, subjectivity is something else. Teachers sometimes expect this or that interpretation and you just can’t come up with it like they want. You just can’t see things the way they do.

bookish1's avatar

@Yeahright : I think that analysis is an external skill. It has to be taught. I have to teach my undergrads how to do analysis every single semester. “The author is arguing X, Y is my evidence, and it is significant because Z.” Otherwise, the great majority of them will just write, “I felt this way,” or “I did/did not like this text.” I had to learn the skill of analysis as well. It’s not an inborn trait. I think that good writing skills facilitate good thinking.

mattbrowne's avatar

Cosmology: Humankind wants to know where we came from and where we will go
Bioinformatics: Progress in medicine
Green technology: To save the planet
Positive psychology: To increase the well-being of people

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@bookish1 I’ve long believed that the goal of a four-year college education is to teach anaylis. Someone entering college is likely to believe and be persuaded by every article, editorial, op-ed piece, position statement, etc. By graduation, if the school’s done its job well, that same person should be able question, evaluate, and develop defensible positions.

Aster's avatar

Anatomy and Physiology (and lab) were very important as was English Composition. Or was it English and Composition? lol
I took more psychology courses than any others but they never impressed me for some reason.

Yeahright's avatar

@bookish1 I’m not quite sure what you mean by external skill. Analysis is a cognitive process that cannot be taught in one class because it’s a process that is constantly developing from early on. Depending on the course you are teaching, you can give students the key elements for the analysis of the respective content matter.
Yes, I agree we learn to analyze. What is innate is the capacity we have to analyze, but the process itself is learned. I think that good writing skills facilitate good thinking. For me, it’s the other way around. At least that’s what I tell my students: good thinking leads to good writing. 1. Think, 2. Outline, 3. Write.

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