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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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  • Feb 4 2013: In a democracy, if children do not learn about democracy, they will not be able to preserve it as adults. Also, the value of democracy cannot be taught without teaching history and current events. It is impossible to understand your place in the world without learning the basics of geography and how to use a map.

    So, to function at a minimum level of competency as adults, children must learn a few things whether they are interested or not. Another example is basic health and hygiene.

    I agree with Fritzie that most everything that is vital to our lives can be made interesting to children, and force is not necessary. The key is that these subjects are vital. Show children the importance of these subjects, to them personally, and they will be full of questions.
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      Feb 4 2013: I agree Barry, and your mention of learning about democracy reminds me of this TED talk, which I LOVE.

      http://www.ted.com/talks/john_hunter_on_the_world_peace_game.html

      I believe there are ALWAYS possibilities to engage children AND adults in ways that are appealing, exciting enjoyable, challenging and respectful to all participants.

      I agree with you and others on this thread who have expressed the idea that "most everything that is vital to our lives can be made interesting, and force is not necessary".
    • Feb 4 2013: Sure there are foundational subjects. And yes everything that is taught should be made interesting and relevant. It definately was not my experience that public schools taught this way. Although some teachers are better than other my experience is that public education has one teaching style and one curriculum.

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