In education, when you reach the tail end of your years in traditional schooling, the most common path of study for millions of teenage students across the world is to choose two to four subjects to take, alongside a larger number of set, compulsory classes including the likes of English, mathematics, and sciences ranging from chemistry to biology to physics.
These compulsory subjects are often regarded as universal bases that are required to complete a well-rounded and broad reaching education, arming students with the essentials that they need in each corner of knowledge in order to be able to go out and thrive in whichever area of further study and later employment that they desire. But, with many more career avenues open to young people in today’s modern world, the question is, is this old-fashioned agenda of certain subjects being compulsory slightly outdated? Would it be a more beneficial and appropriate experience for young people to be able to build their own curriculum from nothing, choosing only the disciplines that they are interested in?
The answer to this question is a complicated one, because for as long as the majority of medium and high-level jobs across the world require minimum pass grades in subjects like English and mathematics, it remains so that these particular classes are going to have to be taken by all young people regardless of their career and life ambitions. Before we can start to alter the opportunities students can give themselves in their learning, we need to question whether the notion of needing proficient knowledge in English and math is an archaic one or one that is still valid. Personally, I hold the belief that these two subjects are indeed an important cornerstone of education, but on the other hand, I do not believe that the different realms of science are an equally adaptable or integral base of knowledge as English or mathematics. As a result of this, the personal conclusion I must come to is that, perhaps, the only two subjects that students should have to take as a matter of requirement are indeed English and mathematics.
If, from a young age, you have a desire to be a language interpreter, then does it not make much more sense for your career path and strength to be able to study French, Spanish and German rather than chemistry, biology and physics? Equally, would a student with ambitions to be an artist benefit from being forced to spend time on chemical equations rather than being able to take a variety of subjects like art, drama and music?
Another element of this argument, one that is not necessarily to do with career ambition, is the simple factor of enhancing student enjoyment and satisfaction during their school years. You only need to search for common denominators in young adult media to see that being forced to study subjects that you do not have a passion for can lead to an overall downturn in academic performance and enthusiasm. Why should a student be made to feel disenfranchised or devalued simply because they are having to attend history lessons rather than music lessons that they are passionate about?
To put it plainly, allowing students to pick their own disciplines, as much as possible, leads not only to a better chance of attaining the careers they desire, but it can also serve to make them much happier, more enthusiastic and tuned in individuals for the length of their school careers. Pupils are less likely to be absentees if they are studying subjects they have a genuine interest in.