Book Review: I Used to Know that

By Caroline Taggart

Published by Reader's Digest

March 2009;$14.95US; 978-0-7621-0995-1

Facts from School You Forgot to Remember
(information released by FSB Associates)
Take an entertaining trip back to the classroom with I Used to Know That. Witty, engaging, and fun, this little book will appeal to the student in each of us. A one-of-a-kind collection of hundreds of facts learned long ago, it includes:
  • Our Changing World: Test your knowledge of the latest geography.
  • Prose and Poetry: From Shakespeare to diphthongs, English class will come alive again here.
  • Math and Science: Quotients, phalanges, and protons . . . do these long-forgotten words take you back to high school days?
  • History: As Santayana once said so well: "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
Author Bio
Caroline Taggart has been an editor of non-fiction books for nearly 30 years and has covered nearly every subject from natural history and business to gardening and astronomy. She has written several books and was the editor of Writer’s Market UK 2009.
This book came in for me to review at a perfect time! I'm preparing for the new school year for my three homeschooling daughters! Two of them are starting 9th grade and the other, 6th grade! I struggle at times with deciding what do they really need to know. The author, Caroline Taggart, said that while she was researching the book that she discovered that everybody had been to school and that they had forgotten different things. One person said that she couldn't remember what was "square root" and the author said that she wasn't even sure why she now wanted to know this fact again.
1- English: Learning how to master your language. It covers parts of speech, phrases and clauses, synonyms and antonyms, diphthongs (remember those?), figures of speech and prosody! I wasn't surprised by anything listed in this chapter. How often do you think noun, direct object, adjective,etc before you speak or write?
2-Literature: She gives a run down on the "classics" of literature by Author and their work. I loved this chapter! It gave me a lot of ideas for my high school girls this school year! Time to dust off the classics, many of which I had forgotten, and go exploring in the world of classic literature! Did you remember that Jane Austen only completed 6 novels? Can you name them?
3-Math: Arithmetic (do you really ever hear that term anymore?) which is all about sums- adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing and their vocabulary words! The use math is in our every day life. What is important to teach children today? Do they need to know Algebra and Equations? How about Trig and The Pythagorean Theorem? I feel that this is the year for my high school students to really take some time and think about what they want to do for future employment. This math chapter covers some very important concepts. Silly mom and wife of 16 years that I am, I think of blueberry and cherry when I hear the word pie not pi as in the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter! The only reason I've needed to know pi as an adult is to teach it to my children.
4- Science: The author made a very important point at the beginning of this chapter! Every school teaches and covers topics differently. So as a teacher of three what am I suppose to teach them? She covers biology, chemistry and physics! My approach thus far for science is to teach based on their interest. The high school students will have a very structured science this year. Why? Will they really need to know about all those elements and their atomic numbers? How much of what we learn in science do we really need to know?
5- History: We learn history to understand where we have been, why we are headed in this direction and how to not make the same mistakes that so and so made! The presidential facts were full of historical tidbit as well as minor trivia such as "Clinton spent a lot of time in the headlines because of his alleged affair with a White House intern". How many people can name that intern? How many people can name what Act was passed during Lyndon B. Johnson's term? The chapter includes major conflicts as well as other important historical dates.
6-Geography: This chapter is full of facts about the Countries of the World, the States in our Country, Mountains and Bodies of Water. The last part of the chapter covers Paleozoic Era up to the Cenozoic Era. This chapter is very rich with information. All of which someone probably recalls. I do not remember the the capital of Uruguay but know how to use an Atlas to find the information as well as GOGGLE search! That is what I teach my daughters.
7- General Studies: Could you call this chapter "Extra Credit"? All the fun extras of World Religions, Roman Numerals, Mythology, Famous Artist,etc. Very fun and I was surprised as to how much of that chapter I could recall!
Two thumbs up on this book. It only has 175 pages! I would call it a quick read but I can't! It is so full of facts that had me thinking "did I ever learn that?" It also made me think about what my daughters are learning. Learning is to be fun and engaging. Do they love to learn? Will they be able to recall more of these facts if they had fun learning them? What do they want to learn? Thanks for putting together all these "Facts from School You Forgot to Remember"!
Thanks to Caitlin Price, Publicist at FSB Associates for the book to review!

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