If Only I Could Have Chosen What to Learn at School

Sex, Philosophy, Nutrition, Creativity, and 48 more

I was at school in the 80s. Blimey, that’s a long time ago — I am shocked myself. Anyway, I went to an all-boys grammar school on the outskirts of London. At that school, between the ages of 11 and 16 years, I did these subjects (presented in alphabetical order) — the same ones every year:

Art
English Language
English Literature
Biology
Chemistry
French
Geography
History
Latin
Maths
P.E. (Physical Education)
Physics

And then for the following 2 years, I did these subjects:

Chemistry
Maths
Physics

What a syllabus. Why oh why? My heart weeps for the young me — and all my classmates (even the kids I didn’t like). All I remember from these 7 years is cutting up a cow’s eye (wtf) in biology, avoiding reading out loud in Eng Lit, playing football in the playground, and representing the school at chess.

It would have been much more fun and much more useful to study from the following 52 subjects (listed here in alphabetical order) — spread across the 7 years. Students get to choose which subjects they study — and in what order — according to what they want to learn and what they feel ready for. All subjects are optional, but you have to study something.

There would always be plenty of space for open discussion. And based on these discussions, other learnings, and changes in the wider world, the subjects would evolve each year.

How much better I would have been prepared for University, Career, Marriage, Kids, and just Life in general.

Side note: I came across the Unschooling movement recently. It’s home schooling — but replace the schooling with unschooling. There is no syllabus and kids get to study what they want.

[The] Arts

Topics covered: Literature. Art. Film. Theatre. Performance art. Poetry.

Big History

Topics covered: From the Big Bang to Now. The Ice Ages. The 5 mass extinction events.

Civilizations

Topics covered: What defines a civilization. Ancient civilizations. The possibility of lost civilizations. Modern civilization.

Climate Change

Topics covered: Natural cycles. Human impact on. Whether technology can help.

Conspiracy Theories

Topics covered: What are conspiracy theories. Why do they exist. Top conspiracy theories. How to question.

Comedy

Topics covered: The purpose of humour. Comedic genres. Top comedians.

Communication

Topics covered: How to write. How to present. Public speaking.

Consciousness

Topics covered: Material view of consciousness. Spiritual view of consciousness. Free will vs Determinism. Objects of consciousness. Is the Universe conscious?

Cooking

Topics covered: Basic skills. One pot meals. 30 minute meals. Indian cooking. Chinese cooking.

Creativity

Topics covered. Creativity and the creative process. Writing. Poetry. Drawing. Illustration. Painting. Music. Dance. Improvisation.

Culture

Topics covered: What is culture. Comparison of various world cultures. Modern Western culture. Company culture. Subcultures.

Discrimination

Topics covered: Racism. Sexism. Power. Oppression.

Emotional Intelligence

Topics covered: Self-awareness. Self-regulation. Motivation. Empathy. Social skills.

Family

Topics covered: Functional. Dysfunctional. Marriage. Parenting. Other choices.

Fitness

Topics covered: Endurance. Strength. Balance. Flexibility.

Food

Topics covered: Foods of the world. Healthy eating. Ways of eating such as veganism, low-carb, and Mediterranean.

Genetics

Topics covered: Natural selection. DNA. Genome sequencing. CRISPR.

[Being a] Good Person

Topics covered: Altruism. Ethics. Morality. Gratitude. Philanthropy. Service.

Health

Topics covered: Disease. Chinese medicine. Western medicine. Alternative health.

Humans

Topics covered: Origin. Development. What we have in common. What sets us apart. Story-telling.

Hygge

Topics covered: Friends. Socialising. How to enjoy life.

Language

Topics covered: History of language. Language families. Ancient languages. How language evolves. Grammar of your native language.

Law

Topics covered: What is law? Why do we have law? Law variance across the world. Criminal justice system. Prison and rehabilitation.

Love

Topics covered: What is love? Romantic love. Friendship. Kindness. Other types of love.

Malevolence

Topics covered: War. Capital punishment. Domestic violence. Hitler. Stalin.

Martial arts

Topics covered: Survey of martial arts. Hard martial arts vs soft marital arts. Chi energy. Experience of several martial arts.

Maths

Topics covered: The beauty of mathematics. Mathematics in nature. Algebra. Geometry. Trigonometry. Calculus. Statistics and Probability. Applications of maths in the world.

Meditation

Topics covered: What is meditation. The different types of meditation. How to meditate. Experiential study of the inner world of thoughts and feelings.

Mental Health

Topics covered: How to look after your brain. Mental illness. Anxiety. Depression. Suicide ideation.

Money

Topics covered: The history of money. Money across the world. Inequality. How to manage money. Compound interest. How to invest.

Music

Topics covered: History of music. Play an instrument. How to read music. Music genres. World music.

Paranormal

Topics covered: Telekinesis. Spirits/Ghosts. Near Death Experiences. The five clairs (for example, clairvoyance).

Pathogens

Topics covered: Virus. Bacteria. The immune system.

Philosophy

Topics covered: The Greeks. Eastern philosophy. Modern day philosophers. Common philosophical questions.

Physics

Topics covered: Newton’s laws. Quantum physics. The four forces. Einstein. The search for a theory of everything. String theory (for beginners).

Politics and Society

Topics covered: Survey of typical political systems. Nazism. Communism. Fundamentalism. Terrorism. Utopia. Dystopia.

Programming

Topics covered: Logic. History of programming. Programming languages. How to program.

Psychoactive Drugs

Topics covered: Use of, through history. Psychedelics. Plant medicine. Therapeutic. Recreational. War on drugs.

Psychology

Topics covered: Survey of main psychologists. Psychology as social science. Common therapeutic methods. Developmental psychology. Popular psychology.

Relationships

Topics covered: Different types. Abuse and harassment. Relating skills. Non-violent communication.

Religion

Topics covered: The world’s popular religions. Religion vs Spirituality. History of religion. Ancient beliefs.

Science

Topics covered: The scientific method. The great scientists. Scientific revolutions.

Self Improvement

Topics covered: Habits. Goal setting. Growth mindset. Neuro Linguistic Programming. How to learn. Quick reading.

Self Inquiry

Topics covered: Awareness. You are not your thoughts. How to question your stressful thoughts. Suffering. Freedom.

Sex

Topics covered: Sexuality. Gender. Porn and the porn industry. Intimacy. Good sex. Tantra.

Social Media

Topics covered: What is it. Comparison with other media. Social impact. Online bullying. Algorithms. Influencers. Connection to our reward system.

Sport and Games

Topics covered: Play games (board and computer). Play a wide variety of sport. What is play? Game theory. Why do human beings like sport? Competition. Collaboration.

Survival skills

Topics covered: Growing food. Off grid living. Putting up a tent. Trekking. Overnight expeditions in the wild.

Technology

Topics covered: Computing. Machine learning. Artificial Intelligence. Robotics. Innovation.

Thinking About Thinking

Topics covered: Cognitive bias. How to think better. Debate and argument. Decision making.

[The] Universe

Topics covered: An exploration of the Universe. Our place in it. The possibility of extraterrestrial life.

Working Life

Topics covered: Types of work. Work vs Career. Employed vs Self Employed. Entrepreneurship. Modern ways of working.

I’ve lived passionately. Read voraciously. Meditated deeply. Contemplated fearlessly. Listened closely. Worked hard. I am open and curious. And I want to share.

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