When Will I Ever Use This Stuff?
Sooner or later, your teen may say "When am I ever going to use this stuff?" and complain about their high school courses. Here is one answer to that question: traveling. When you travel, you use every single high school subject.

I recently took a trip to Europe. We walked along the canal in Strasbourg France, saw castles along the Rhine and walked through the Kaiserdom in Germany. You can read more in my blog post . You know what I found out? I used almost all of that supposedly "useless" stuff I learned in high school. The trip really stretched my brain, and I was amazed at how much I *wish* I had remembered from high school.

As an adult, this is the stuff I never thought I would use, but did!

Foreign Language

When you go into a cafe in France, you really want to know if you are ordering bread, fish, or chicken. While I didn't remember those words from my French studies, I did RECOGNIZE the words when I saw them in print. And when you are in another county, there are certain things you really NEED to be able to say: please, thank you, where is the bathroom? By the end of my day in France, I realized I've begun to think in French! Truly! I got back to the ship, and said, "what time is it?" to my husband, in FRENCH, without even thinking about it! I even used my Latin when I saw the Roman ruins and artwork.
History

I had no idea that Germany would have so much Roman History! I was appalled at how little I knew, and was desperate to avoid looking like a dumb American who didn't know European History. Charlamagne? Romans in Germany? The Black Plague? I needed to know these things. We saw sites about Jewish history, Roman history, Medieval castles, and Baroque buildings. I really needed more history, and wished I'd had more. The various wars each had an impact of different towns. The city of Strasbourg, for example, changed hands so many times, that a single resident might change their nationality 4 times in their lifetime without ever moving. And each time they were required by law to change their spoken language, and even their name. I needed to know geography - where we were, where we were going, and how they were connected. I needed to be able to read a map, so we could find out way around without speaking the language. In these photos, you can see how street names are in both languages - German and French. And you can see how the home was build in 1356 - you know, more than 100 years before "Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492"
Math

We used math every day. The distances are in kilometers, and the temperatures are in Celsius. We needed to calculate the exchange rate every day, to estimate how many US dollars we were spending on lunch and trinkets. Now, to be honest, I've always known that Math is something that people use as adults. I used math everyday as an adult. I worked as a nurse, and if I did the math wrong, people could die. My husband worked as a engineer. If he got his math wrong, airplanes could fall out of the sky. A calculator wasn't enough, I had to be good enough at mental math to know for certain that a dose or IV rate was appropriate. And like foreign language, it's not like you need ALL your math, but you need to be good enough in all your math in order to remember what you need to know, to do what you need to do as an adult. But the use of math was again important when traveling.

You WILL use this stuff!

Be sure to tell your kids they WILL use all this stuff... It just could take a while! But one day that will be GLAD they learned all they could in high school. Hopefully they will travel at a younger age that I am now. Lots of college kids do a study abroad semester, and if that happens, they will be using all that "useless stuff" much sooner than I did!

Fine Art

In the US, all our art is from the 17th century or newer. In Europe, that's considered "new" and much of the art in their museums is dated earlier - sometimes much earlier. The architecture is a mixture of AD 1000 to the current age. Without knowing much art, I had a great deal of difficulty distinguishing the different styles - and it mattered! A fire in 1500, and bombings in World War 2, would mean that a single cathedral might have a variety of styles of artitecture, and dramatically different styles of stained glass.
Math

We used math every day. The distances are in kilometers, and the temperatures are in Celsius. We needed to calculate the exchange rate every day, to estimate how many US dollars we were spending on lunch and trinkets. Now, to be honest, I've always known that Math is something that people use as adults. I used math everyday as an adult. I worked as a nurse, and if I did the math wrong, people could die. My husband worked as a engineer. If he got his math wrong, airplanes could fall out of the sky. A calculator wasn't enough, I had to be good enough at mental math to know for certain that a dose or IV rate was appropriate. And like foreign language, it's not like you need ALL your math, but you need to be good enough in all your math in order to remember what you need to know, to do what you need to do as an adult. But the use of math was again important when traveling.

You WILL use this stuff!

Be sure to tell your kids they WILL use all this stuff... It just could take a while! But one day that will be GLAD they learned all they could in high school. Hopefully they will travel at a younger age that I am now. Lots of college kids do a study abroad semester, and if that happens, they will be using all that "useless stuff" much sooner than I did!