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Should we force kids to learn material they don't show interest in?

As a college graduate I was thinking about how much material I have studied in all of my educational career and then promptly forgotten after the test. Is it a waste of time to try and learn something you are not interested in? To what extent should we allow educational autonomy?

There are a lot of different ways to be intelligent. Memorization and regurgitation are just one small facet.

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    Gail . 50+

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    Feb 3 2013: Reading, writing, arithmetic, and the love of learning. These should be taught to all. Beyond that, let learning go where it may.

    All kids are naturally curious, so when I say that we should teach love of learning, it is more like we should teach kids how to find answers to questions they have, and allow them the joy of learning through experimentation.
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      Feb 3 2013: To that I would add history. These are the basics that everyone should have broad knowledge of.
      • Feb 3 2013: I believe history is a subject that a child should learn only if he/she wants to. History is told differently by different societies, cultures, people so I don't think it is a keystone subject so to speak.
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          Feb 3 2013: I have to strongly disagree. A basic understanding of the history of one's society is essential. A child doesn't need to a deep or detailed education in it, only enough to understand the society one resides in. It's just like arithmetic, you may shun and dislike it as an adult, but you need to have been generally introduced to it as a child.
      • Feb 4 2013: Who gets to tell the story of one's society? What if the parents story is different than the schools? What is notable in history? Why isn't natural history as basic to our education?

        My point is history is controversial. I think once you teach reading you can introduce the child to all kinds of things including history.
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      Feb 3 2013: I'd quickly agree to that, if it's REAL history and not just dates and boring stuff. If it's left at what I remember it being, it's a huge waste of time (as is obvious by how Americans haven't learned a thing about history and seem determined to re-walk some very dangerous roads). How I hated history, until much later when I understood what an exciting field of study it is. It's not really as much about history as it is the parts that make history real.

      I've never read an interesting history text book - not when I was in school or my daughter. Those books miss the point!
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      Feb 4 2013: TED Lover, Lawren and Brian,
      I wholeheartedly agree TED Lover, that it is important to encourage the love of learning. I believe learning will indeed "go where it may", and as you point out, there are different methods of learning. I agree that most kids are naturally curious, and I think/feel it is beneficial to encourage curiosity throughout our life adventure.

      I'm with you Brian, and your statement..."I was thinking about how much material I have studied in all of my educational career and then promptly forgotten after the test. There are a lot of different ways to be intelligent. Memorization and regurgitation are just one small facet"

      I was never good in a classroom setting, and I also memorized lots of information in order to pass the tests. Some of that information was "regurgitated" for use later in life.....some not. When all my friends were participating in higher education, I was exploring many different avenues of the life experience with practical involvement and application. When I started guest lecturing at the university, I always encouraged the students to participate with discussion, rather than listen to me speak for hours:>) For me, participation is more valuable than simply memorizing information, and I believe all methods of learning are valuable, depending on the preference of the student.

      l agree with Lawren that history is valuable and also agree with Brian that history gives us the background of different societies and cultures, which may open our worldview tremendously, so I think/feel it IS very important.

      In my experience, it depends on how history is taught. I had no interest in history in school, because it was about memorizing names and dates for the test. There didn't seem to be any interesting connections made in history books or classes. As an adult, reading historical novels, traveling, genuinely exploring history, cultures and people's background is amazing, astounding, fascinating and VERY interesting:>)

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