wasting bandwidth since 1999

Do We Need To Know This?

Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing points to a wiki with a long list of what the writer considers obsolete skills, all linked to information about the particular task.

He invites visitors to comment as to whether the entry should be deleted.

Some are pretty obvious (hand cranking a car) and some are debatable (manually entering prices on a cash register) but it’s still an interesting list.

I wonder how many obsolete skills, both on and off this list, are still part of our school curriculums.

I nominate long division.

obsolete skills, education


  1. sylvia martinez

    Ouch! That list of obsolete skills taught in schools would be pretty huge! (logarithms, 5 paragraph essay…)

  2. Benjamin Baxter

    Long division serves the purpose of having children develop organized, logical thinking.

    Is there anything else practical to do at grade level of a comporable difficulty?


  3. Tim

    That sounds familiar. We used to claim that two-column proofs in Geometry helped students “develop organized, logical thinking”. It didn’t and neither does slogging through long division problems.

    Kids certainly need to understand the concept of division. The mechanical process beyond those concepts should be done by calculator.

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