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life lessons vs. what school taught you…

You don’t learn life lessons in school.

I learned how to use a protractor, I know what meiosis means, and I can tell you about all the parallels between George Orwell’s Animal Farm and the Russian Revolution. When I graduated, a bright spark of an 18-year-old ready to put my newfound knowledge out into the world, I wasn’t aware of how utterly useless this information was. Sure, I had some great philosophical arguments with friends about world history when I was living on campus, but those useless facts do just about nothing for me in the real world. Why don’t we learn about things that are going to be useful to us in adult life? All school did was tell me my whole life depended on my final exams, then I’d get into uni if I was lucky. Figuring out the rest of it was a trial by fire – and I mean that literally. Here is a breakdown of everything we were learning in school, and what we should have learnt instead…


Lesson: Solve a quadratic equation using square roots
Life lesson: Solve your kitchen plumbing issues

I would just love to use all that suppressed knowledge I gained about quadratic equations and algebra, but I’m a little busy trying to figure out how the hell to connect my washing machine in my shoe-box of an apartment. Does it need to have hot water running to it? What the hell does this hose do? Do I need this little copper pipe that came in the box? Algebra is all well and good, but it doesn’t clean your clothes.




Lesson: Which Boleyn sister was beheaded in 1536?
Life lesson: Which oil am I meant to use?

Sure, Anne Boleyn had an interesting life, and I think I could talk to someone about it if they were as much of a dork as I am – but my knowledge of King Henry VIII’s wives isn’t going to cook my spaghetti. What the hell is vegetable oil and how is it different from olive oil? Can’t I just use one type of oil and be done with it? I might have been an excellent cook if it weren’t for 16th century royal history…




Lesson: How do enzymes act as catalysts for chemical reaction?
Life lesson: How do I file taxes?

It’s all well and good to understand how your body works – it’s even an important thing to understand. But another thing I would deem important in life is money. My money, specifically. No one tells you in high school when the financial year ends. No one tells you that if you earn under a certain amount in the financial year, that you get most of it back. No one tells you how to make your tax claim to begin with. Top tip: if you’re filing your tax, you can do it online here.

you vs. the government ^



Lesson: Memorise the periodic table
Life lesson: Memorise your bank card pin and every password ever

Your tax file number, BSB, account number, superannuation member number, passwords to every conceivable electronic device within a 10 metre radius, your security key, your new phone number, your emergency contact – to name a few. But hey! Hydrogen, helium, lithium, beryllium, boron, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen…



A lot of what we learn now comes from our smart phones. While this is super handy, it would have been good to know how to protect my food from weevils before the infestation I had in 2014. But at least I know how to make a potato battery, right? …right?




About the Author


Amy is the Content & Social Media Specialist with Campus Living Villages. She lived at UNSW Village for 4 years, so she knows a thing or two about moving out of home and starting life on-campus!