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Op-Ed: Why Do We Study Academic Subjects?

April 4, 2018

Each year, American students study English, history, math, and science. These are often referred to as the “core subjects” within most education systems. Is studying such material relevant to a student’s future career path? To answer this we must distinguish the purpose of these topics, and their relevance.

Most modern “core” academics were introduced during the mid-nineteenth century in America, with the rise of public education by social reformers. The thought was to create a basis for any student who chose to pursue an understanding of the world around them. Although at the time education was not essential to find a substantial job, it was sought out to fulfill one’s desire for more knowledge or opportunity. Though education (as we know it) was not widespread until the twentieth century, educators in the nineteenth century shared the same aspirations for innovating universal ideals and principles to influence all components of society. These universal subjects, by the influence of European education, included reading, geography, arithmetic, and science. The same four areas exist as our “core” subjects to this day.

With the common concept of education, individuals become more exposed to knowledge. The rise of public institution and law (requiring minors to receive an education) extended these thoughts of fundamental comprehension, resulting in a national regulation of major concepts in the public sphere.

The purpose of each core class varies dependent on the subject. These subjects are the most effective in terms of comprehension, and help us understand how and why the world works the way it does.


The intended purpose of English is to teach students how to read and write, but it allows other opportunities for students. Fifty-three nations around the globe use English as the official language of their state. It is through English that industries (including journalism, science, technology, and tourism) can communicate and develop. In addition, literature is key for addressing issues connecting humanity with one another. Through literature, one can better explain their ideas to others, as well as back up their reasoning with facts and evidence.


Through facts and lecture, students begin to analyze their own moral understanding. Events from the past can help us understand their cause, which can lead us to a better future. Students well-versed in history or “social studies” will be able distinguish their identity and place in society. Following this concept, history will always be relevant in the world because it accounts for everything happening now. With an understanding of the past, students can learn how to prevent or prepare for certain scenarios.


Tired of solving equation after equation in your math class? Just think of math as a way to expand your thinking process. Math is not just numbers in different formations – it’s a logical, quantifiable way of reasoning. Although many individuals may never enter a field of mathematics, using the process helps you solve problems and think more efficiently and effectively, whether you realize it or not. Math is the foundation all students must establish in order to engage in higher-level thinking.


Like math, science is a way of logical thinking through certain evidence and process. Through science, we learn investigative skills that help stimulate creative thoughts and curiosity. Being able to acquire knowledge on natural phenomenons can help students understand how and why things operate or act like they do. With the information gained from science, new innovations and creations can take shape, and rational solutions to issues can be solved with logic.

The reason for each core subject’s existence is specific, but altogether, they’re in place to help us advance our knowledge and character. How we’re receiving the content and knowledge is always changing and evolving, but it’s important that the content and knowledge itself remains intact.