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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 5 2013: By "force" do you mean just teachers' and parents' authoritarian ways of educating kids?
    If so, then I guess it depends on what kind of "force" they use.
    For example, they—teachers and parents—could manipulatively use “reinforcement(with reward)” and “punishment” strategies to help students to learn more about some subject, which they aren’t really fond of.

    What's worse is adults' cleverly planned "make-you-realize-the-reality" education strategy.
    It's more complicated and could be more manipulative.


    Educators keep telling their students that the outside of the class is filled with competitive atmosphere, which means students should find a way to survive in there: Study hard!
    "If you don't learn about this, you wouldn't get a good grade on this subject. And if you don't get a good grade on this subject, you'll probably fail to enter the college you want to go(could be you’ve been wanting to go). And if you fail to go to college, it's quite possible that you wouldn't get a good job you want to take. You would be unemployed and people around you would think of you as a pitiful creature. That is, your life would be miserable without this long process of learning. Do you understand?"

    Although the way to make students understand the reality and persuade them to study hard no matter what could be different, in essence, we can say that this kind of approach is also part of forcing students to learn material they don't show interest in. I have to say, it’s kind of brutal..

    Fyi, I've seen this kind of approach a lot. The result: perfect score on your math test, terrible "math-hangover" after each test. Students just hope that this—the period of learning of a subject—would end soon—“Sooner the better!”
    • Feb 6 2013: I understand what you are saying Elizabeth, I agree. And I would add that even when students receive good marks on their schoolwork it doesn't necessarily mean the student will retain that knowledge. Ultimately, it is up to the students brain to decide if those memories are worth keeping. A lot of time students just study to get a good grade but don't really care for the material.

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