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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 2 2013: Might want to put more time on this. Hit "edit" to add time.

    Well, they say nothing is ever wasted in nature, and I think life in general is that way, nothing we learn is ever wasted. Actually, as you grow from kindergarten, you have increasing choice over what you learn and can choose things you are interested in. I do think our society believes everybody should have certain basic skills, however.
    • Feb 3 2013: Sure one can learn from mistakes but an education should help the child get on the track of avoiding some of what life will throw. If we emphasis critical thinking and creativity for example. The human brain is a supercomputer and I do believe we need to see that every child gets to use it before they get the attitude that school sucks.
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        Feb 4 2013: Well, Brian, I tend to want to defend education because I enjoyed my school years. I did not find that it was all about memorization or regurgitation. New concepts were presented to us over and over in all my classes, many of the new concepts were difficult and took effort to understand, and I think it exercised my brain to do the work to get the new concepts "under my belt." This would have been true both in math and science and in the humanities. There were many opportunities to take art classes and expand creativity.

        I was on the fast track academically. I was in the mentally gifted minor program in elementary school, took all the hardest courses in junior high and high school, and went on to Stanford bachelor's. Most of my friends were also really smart. I don't know, where were you, or are you, academically?
        • Feb 4 2013: Ok so you had a different educational career than the majority. I had your standard public high school, public university education.

          I don't think we need to have a curriculum that's goal is for all of its students to become scientists. I am using science broadly. Students should be introduced to subjects and be able to dig deeper if they so choose. I think school is a turn off when one has to study minute details on a subject they are not even interested in.

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