1. The State Capitals.
The 50 most useless things we teach kids are easily the state capitals. I’m all for teaching kids government, but how is it useful to know where each state’s City Hall is located? Instead of teaching the 50 capitals in alphabetical order, we could teach the 50 largest cities in order of population — that might actually be useful. Or we could teach kids why the capitals are located where they are. Many states placed their capitals far from major cities, like Albany in New York, so that government officials wouldn’t be affected by business interests. That’s actually interesting, right? All most of us learned from the state capitals was that education is entirely trivial. And that Albany exists.
2. Don’t talk to strangers.
I could see how parents in, say, Skid Row, might advise their children not to talk to strangers, but what does that mean in a place like the small town where I grew up? Don’t talk to the mother you don’t recognize (because her child is a few years older)? Don’t talk to the guy inspecting the power lines, or the lady who works at the bank? What it means is, don’t venture outside your suburban bubble. Stay in your house, stay in your car, then stay at school/work until it’s time to go home. Never venture into the public, never be exposed to another point of view. After all, that’s what television is for!
I got through 17 years of education without once receiving instruction on how to pay taxes or apply for a mortgage, but thank god I still know cursive! I remember being told in third grade that, starting in fifth grade, we would have to write all our papers in cursive. Then I got to fifth grade and was asked please not to write in the font — ever again. Maybe this was a lesson more important than knowing how APR rates work, the lesson that most things people tell you to do will end up being a complete waste of time.
4. Bra-snapping is sexual harassment.
When I was in fifth grade, we had to attend a seminar on sexual harassment that included a video PSA about “bra snapping.” In the days after the seminar, instances of bra snapping went up by approximately infinity percent — none of us had ever thought of such a thing before, but boy did things get funnier once we had! Not for the girls, obviously.
5. You could grow up to be President!
I think what this is supposed to mean is, “You can do anything you set your mind to,” but I always understood it to mean, “You could be President one day, so don’t do anything stupid.” It’s like when one of your parents was out of town, and the other would say, “Wait until your father hears about this,” except the implication of this one is even more severe. Because even a child knows: when you run for President, everything comes out. “You burned your anus trying to light one of your farts? And there are witnesses? Just wait until every person in America hears about this!”