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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 6 2013: Absolutely not. Very very basics should be included so that any child will have a foundation for language, social interaction, and future learning. But beyond that why not let them do what they're inclined to do? What they're passionate about? What they'll excel at? They'll have a better quality of life and provide more for their communities and the economy.

    To those that say it exposes you to things you might otherwise never find interest in:
    Expose students to the ends which different subjects can achieve, instead of having them memorize all the fine details which don't apply to them. Any student would be more inclined to study biology if instead of memorizing facts about tRNA, and mitochondria, and centrioles, they instead were exposed to what biology-knowledge can do. It empowers one to create GMO crops to feed starving nations, cure disease, bring quality healthcare to the masses, the ability to create and change the world. So instead of taking years of biology throughout highschool and college, maybe expose kids occasionally to "ads" for biology.

    To those that say little kids are too inexperienced to know what to learn:
    Certainly children won't develop an affinity for, say, history unless they understand why it's important. But they have the most inquisitive, plastic minds of anyone and they are BUILT to learn. So instead of boring them with subjects that don't interest them and creating industrialized drones, empower them to achieve whatever degree of learning suits them and they will pursue it. For example, little boys like to blow stuff up. Instead of incentivizing kids to learn math for math's sake, show them how a little math can help them build an awesome trebuchet. You better bet they'll learn math if you provide the right incentive, and they'll be grateful for what they learned instead of sick of cramming for pointless (in their minds) tests.

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