Back to school


Today’s prompt provides us with an option to take a break from our life and go back to school to master a subject of our choosing.

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Without batting an eyelid, the subject of my choosing would be Economics with a dash of Statistics thrown in.

Back in my eleventh standard (or First year Pre University Course, as they call it in Bangalore University) when I was first introduced to these subjects, Economics stuck me as an extremely dry subject with too many theories and ‘laws’ whereas Statistics was a subject which involved too many numbers and calculations (remember, these were days before Microsoft Excel and computers became as big as they are today, an archaic age to say the least, at least in terms of computing and technology).

Blame it on the education system, the rote-based learning (and teaching) approach followed, the boring teachers and lecturers, my teenage frustrations at not being able to relate these subjects to real life situations or just plain lack of foresight in terms of how to actually use these subjects in life; the net result was that I somehow didn’t develop an interest or actually any levels of deeper understanding or appreciation of these two subjects.

It was only much later in life, almost a decade later, during my B-School days and in fact, even after that, after I started my first job and started reading more non-fiction books that I actually began to understand how omnipresent these subjects were. Today, economics (more specifically behavioral economics) and statistics are subjects that I encounter probably in a daily life even more than the other so called ‘core subjects’ that I studied in school, college and B-School.

I was introduced to the wonderful whimsical field of ‘behavioral economics’ via books such as Freakonomics (Stephen Dubner and Steven Lewitt) and The Undercover Economist (Tim Harford) and they managed to open my eyes and mind to the application of basic economic concepts to everyday life. It was only after reading these books that I started to appreciate the universality of basic economic concepts and laws such as demand, supply, their inelasticities, utility, marginal utility, diminishing marginal utility and so on. The chapters in these books, the examples cited, the correlation to real life, the analogies drawn from real life incidents such as governments collapsing, etc made me realize that there was more to this subject than what was prescribed in all the text books that I had read so far on it.

As for statistics, a wonderful book by John Wiley publications prescribed during my B-School first year opened my eyes and mind to the wonderful applications of this subject. Using the example of a simple factor producing wooden widgets, this book took me through the entire gamut of statistical formula and tools starting from the very basics such as mean, median, mode and moving on to extremely complicated multi-variate analysis, etc. This book and the fact that no premium was put on mugging up all the complicated formulae meant that I learn to appreciate how important and universal this subject was.

From the above post, my love for these two subjects as well as the reasons for the same have been made obvious, I guess. But I would love to hear what subjects you would love to go back to school for. Go ahead and discuss the same in the Comments section and I am sure it will lead to some interesting discussion among the readers of the blog.

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This post has been written for Project 365 : A post a day where the aim is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided.

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15 thoughts on “Back to school

  1. Going back to school – to study? I might not take that option, I miss a lot of things about school, friendships and looking forward to certain periods and classes – don’t think it was the learning, but just the experience. IF I HAD To pick one, it’d be my English class. If I had realised my love for “writing” back then, I would have maybe picked that as an option.

  2. English, History, Geography, SUPW and Dance…hehehe *gives sheepish grin*

    PS – learnt dance privately, wasnt taught in school..but would love to get back to a dance class soon

  3. Thankfully I had a wonderful teacher for Economics during my MBA so stuff such as demand, supply, their inelasticities etc was well understood… about Statistics… wonder if you had imagined then how useful it will come in your work right now 🙂

    I loved History as a subject, esp. The Renaissance and the Medieval ages… there are days when I wonder what it would have been like if I had opted for Arts instead of Science too 🙂

  4. I would have gotten myself shifted from Science to Arts & Literature (only because we only had PCMB {Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Biology} option in our school). Sad that reality struck only when I started skinning the first of the nine rats for the Biology dissection classes. 😦

    • @Rekha, thankfully I didn’t know anything about either Science or Commerce or Arts and took up Commerce as that was the only stream I had my father, my uncles and my cousins in 🙂 I probably wouldn’t have survived the dissection sessions either, although I might have made a decent engineer 🙂

  5. I wouldn’t mind going back to school to study.
    I would study English Literature and History.. 2 of my fave subjects,
    but I did enjoy maths as well!

    I hated biology though .. was never goo with the diagrams and the dissections!

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