TED Conversations

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

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.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Feb 9 2013: is everything useful also innately interesting?

    memorization and regurgitation are not intelligence. being able to work out when where and how to regurgitate information you've memorized is. many students suffer from the illusion that material is useless, because they don't see the skills they've picked up while being exposed to it. even if you don't become an artist, having taken some art classes will help you understand and appreciate the variety of aesthetics better, and your presentations will be more visually appealing than if you hadn't. your speech and writing will be better from having studied shakespeare than something more interesting to the current generation like 'twilight', and you will be more likely to be able to instinctively avoid a crash from having taken physics. similarly, while memorizing something, while the thing you are memorizing isn't necessarily important, being able to memorize through having done it is.

    you might have forgotten the details of what you've learned, but the way your brain is able to analyse information now is purely because of it.
    • Feb 9 2013: you are thoroughly right, often we might have forgotten about what we've learn , but our brain will act differently because of the information its received. we have to get through of these material learning because we never know how the future will lead us
      • Feb 9 2013: another good point! now i'm in my 30s and i still don't presume to know what i will never need, yet plenty of students who haven't even begun to experience the wider world or even their own life are ready to declare so much as a useless waste of time.
    • Feb 9 2013: You will remember that you once knew making it more accessible to learn it again.
      • Feb 9 2013: yet another very good point! the ability to think in particular ways is learnable up to only about age 18-20. it's no coincidence that so many societies set this age as the beginning of adulthood. from what i've read and studied, those neural pathways are very hard to alter past that age - you can teah an old dog new tricks but it's much harder than if the trick was learnt once before at a younger age.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.