Yes. I really do believe they should be able to choose there own topics.
Well firstly why study topics that you are never going to use in your life? I believe its just a waist of time, cause they could be of studying even harder and better on certain subjects due to more time from dropping the other subjects. Also they don't exactly need to study a lot of maths due to calculators and the vast internet now, same for English and many other subjects we now have tons of easier alternatives. Also I believe students would enjoy school a lot more this way, and more would behave and attend, this is due to the fact they are studying and doing the things they enjoy the most!
I don't know about you guys, but choosing subjects is very helpful in terms of future career for students. I am a student myself and I have chosen my subjects. I currently study Physics, Chemistry, English Authority, Maths B, Maths C and Biology. I believe that senior students (like me) and high school students should be able to choose their own subjects as it better prepares them for their future career which is totally different from one student to the next. For example, a student that wants to be a pilot would have no interest or use for studying the arts or history, and an artist would have no interest in biology. However I do believe the most basic subjects of maths and English should be enforced, which is what happens at my school, however there are different levels of maths (pre-vocational, maths A, maths B, maths C) and English (English communications, English authority). This way, a student is more freely able to construct and choose their pathway, allowing for easier access to secondary study and future careers.
Their should be a compromise between letting students pick all of their classes and having them all decided for them. I don't know how course selections work at other schools but at mine we pick what we want to take the following year and then we have to go in for a meeting with the counselor for our grade to discuss the selections we made and make sure we are getting into the classes we need to take and have met the requirements for certain classes (ie, prerequisites and GPA requirements)
The amount of children who go home from school each day and say "I don't know why I am learning Earth Science. I know I do not want to study this further in my life," is an astounding number. We are always talking about pushing our children to be more interested in school, but maybe it is the lack of choice that is causing children to loose interest. If they start from a young age and the parent has a little bit of say into it, the student would find out their career path much faster than in today's process and they would be able to more intently focus on that career. We would have experts coming out for every career there is and that is the truth
The optimal environment for the development of young children isn't having them sit in a desk for hours repeating what the teacher said, all this does is kill the kids curiosity.
The best way is to teach the kids about topics that they want to learn about, focus on individual improvement rather than numbers. There shouldn't be an equal standard for all kids because not all kids are the same, and the current testing system is only beneficial for the average students. Anyone who is above average will not be challenged enough and will lose interest, and someone who is bellow average will never really advance due to the goal being too high.
Here's the thing. Teenagers do WANT to learn. We WANT to be educated and gain an understanding, but I have to say that most of they information we are forced to absorb will be utterly useless to us in the long run. Take certain science classes for example. To be completely honest, the only people who should be forced to take a science class are those who find scientific studies interesting. I can understand basic science classes like Biology and Earth science, but to be forced to take a science class every year in high school when most of that information will be useless in the future is ridiculous.
Where I am from, a lot of students are dropping out of high school and taking the college exams sooner, or they simply drop out. Teenagers won't pay attention to things that do not interest them. By the time we hit our Sophomore year we are already working out what we want to do with out lives and have a basic understanding of what interests us.
I swear that having kids chose the majority of their classes on their own will increase the amount of teenagers that end up going to college. I won't oppose to teenagers being forced to take basic math classes like Algebra and Algebra two, as well as English and some history classes, but the majority should be based on specific interests.
This is also a problem with some schools not providing an acceptable amount of extra curricular classes that can suit the interests of most if not all of the students.
They need to know various facts about history, math, science and reading regardless of what they want to learn about. There are some things that you just need to know . If the kid chooses not to learn history than he won't know basic facts about the revolutionary war, the civil war or any other important events.
Its ok to choose a few classes and a general direction for yourself in high school. But overall no kids should not choose their own classes. There are certain things you have to learn whether or not you want to. No one cares if you feel like being lazy. I cant stanf how unappreciative people are of their opportunity to be educated that so many do not have.
Using Math as example. If a kid is not good at math they will probably choose not to do it if the could. This is not practical because you should know math to be a good part of society. This kid should be given more math! I do agree that kids should be helped and learning styles advanced to suit the needs of the child.
While some might say, "it will teach the kids whats on their minds, from class, and gives some diversity to the classroom," Letting kids wild immagination will not help in the classroom. Doing this will bring up topics in which the students might not need to learn at the moment, and either jump ahead or behind the requirements. Their also might be irrelavent topics brought up.
Topics are not a choice. There should be classes for job possibilities as you get older, but until then, no. You need math to get the right angle in photography and other jobs. If you don't understand the basics, teachers would be KILLING your chance of success. Why not just learn what you are supposed to?
By definition, students are at an academic institution to learn. It is very rare if not impossible to have a student who knows exactly what they should know and not know. This is because by definition the instructor knows more than the student.
Since the instructor knows more than the student, the instructor is much more qualified to determine what should be taught than the student is to determine what they should learn.
For instance, if students were able to pick their own topics, it would lead some students to habitually choose topics they either already know or that are extremely easy to learn (e.G. Basic algebra). However, if education is intended to either prepare the student for later in life or to just for education's sake, then it follows by necessity that focusing on topics that the student has already mastered is unnecessary.
The most efficient way, then, would be to trust in the guidance of an instructor who has more knowledge than the student. The instructor will cover topics that are important (based on the instructor's superior knowledge).
The students have the choice of remaining in the institution and subjecting themselves to the topics the instructor covers, or to leave and study on their own to acquire the topics that the students believe are more relevant. However, if the student (or their guardian) willingly subject themselves to the academic institution's policies, then they should also be bound to what that academic institution wishes to teach as well.
From what the OP wrote in his/her own opinion, I think this question is asking whether kids should choose the small topics discussed in class, rather than the subjects they take. Like you get to choose between earthquakes and tsunamis in geography class. If that is the case, then a strong, vehement NO. The curricula are designed by smart people who have education diplomas and earned their place in the government. They know better what is good for you than you do yourself. Plus, if students get to choose their own topics in class, they won't do well in the exams... The exams test them on what the curriculum teaches, not what they want to be taught.
However, if the question is whether students should be able to pick their own subjects, which most other users seem to think the question is intended to ask, then of course they should. Language classes are a must, and by extension basic literature, like Confucian texts. Maths, geography and history are borderline; I support teaching the basics but letting them choose whether they want to dive deeper. A cultured person should have some knowledge of these, as well as arts and music. As for the hard sciences, they're useless if you don't plan a career related to them, so they should be strictly optional.