Should students be able to choose what topics they want to learn in school?
Debate Rounds (3)
For a student to be able to make choices, such as subjects, and bear consequences of those choices is an important learning opportunity in itself. It is a life skill. It allows the student to learn that they need to make choices for themselves and bear responsibility for the consequence. This is the person will then enter at the end of their schooling life.
However, it seems your arguments are focussed on the topic of students in between 6 - 18 years of age. The definition of children may need to be clarified. Taking the definition of school age children (6 years to 12 years) from the "Child Development Institute" as found on http://childdevelopmentinfo.com..., it is agreed upon that these ages are definitely not suitable ages to choose and select subjects. Even well into 15 years of age, subjects should be preselected. However, at some point beyond those ages, the student begins to yearn for a sense of independence and development of their own identity. By allowing them to choose their subjects, schools can encourage this development of independence and identity. Otherwise, as made clear in the previous, more students will then lose hope in the education system, because their need for freedom and choice has been unmet and thus disengage leading to more drop outs. It should be noted, that the student in school is not just learning the subject itself, the student is learning how to learn. The student is learning ways and methods in which to keep and retain information, learning ways to understand things better, adapting to different styles of learning. Students that are disengaged and discouraged from school too early, will then lose this learning opportunity which is so helpful for them when they come out into society.
To give students of age the choice to choose subjects , does not mean schools can then completely disengage with the student's selection of subjects. Schools, and parents alike, should be responsible in connecting and engaging with students to inform them about the subjects as much as possible, i.e. why the subject is important, what they can expect to learn, what the subjects can lead them to in terms of future careers. In that way, students are making well informed decisions, and not uneducated about their choices.
Schools can also have programmes where students who can begin to decide their subjects are to (for example out of 6 or 7 subjects) choose at least one subject in each category of study i.e. Science (which includes biology, chemistry, physics e.t.c), Maths (which includes statistics, calculus e.t.c.), Arts (which includes Music, Fine Arts, Photography, Performing Arts e.t.c.), Business studies (Economics, accounting e.t.c.). In this way, the student is allowed the degree of choice and selection of subjects, while the student also continues to learn in a wide discipline of studies. Therefore, if student loves art, they may choose more subjects in the art category, but will still continue to learn in science and mathematics.
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