Should high school be mandatory?

In the UK, attending school past the age of 16 is optional. Some students choose to start work, rather than continue their education. Should we force American students to attend high school if they don't want to be there? Doesn't this make it harder for teachers, who often turn into jailers more than educators? Why force someone to learn academic subjects if they don't want to? As a community college educator, it's essential when things get tough that I be able to remind my students that they chose to be where they are--shouldn't high school teachers be able to do the same?

In some states in the USA education is only compulsory to 16 and this is something that is set by the states. See http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d08/tables/dt08_165.asp for the ages at which education is compulsory.

On the question itself I agree that it is unnecessarily restricting freedom of choice and more choice is a good thing. Yet in this case I wonder if it would really be the child making the choice rather than having the choice dicated by their parents if there is the choice.

If freedom of choice is the issue then why should 16 be the lower limit - or for that matter 18 the upper for compulsory schooling?

In China mandatory education only covers primary and junior school, which means you don't have to get any further education by the time you're 15 or 16. But the truth is people would still go on to high school, or if they didn't do well enough to enter they would get some sort of vocational education. Because otherwise they simply can't get a job that would allow them to support themselves (not even a cleaner's job). Only very few people (most likely from rural areas or they're just too poor) finish at junior, in which case they most likely stay in their village and do farming for the rest of their life. This goes to show how very poorly adapted to society people are even after the present mandatory education stage.

Personally I would support mandatory high school education, because in the China case kids at the junior school stage are just not good enough to enter society. One obvious reason is that they need to learn more knowledge and skills. The world has developed a lot since the 19th century (because basically that's about all the science junior education can deal with) and there's a lot of important math, science and also literature skills junior school simply cannot cover. But more importantly, kids at 15 or 16 are still forming all sorts of ideas about the world. High school offers them a bit more time and guidance in the maturing process. I think the age line for mandatory education should be set at something like 18, so that before you can be considered an adult, you need help in your growing up, and high school education can help you. After you're grown up, you can make your own decisions.

In my opinion students should not be forced for high school education. Those students who want to go for other fields like sports,music etc should be encouraged. We can force them to attend school but we can't force them to study. Rather their parents must encourage in the fields they were interested in.


We should also remember that everyone attending high school may not be the best idea; instead there should be a diversity of education options. In particular there should be more practical education options, possibly combined with apprentices and other work placements. What there should not be is some kind of automatic streaming where if you are not doing academically as well as you might you have to go down one path and if you are academically brilliant you go the other.

If you ask me, high school education should be mandatory, the times we are living in make it impossible to sustain yourself if you stop going to school after completing the junior classes. What kind of a job could you get with that level of education? Most employers require at least high school diploma, even if the job you apply for is nothing much, they still want people who can easily understand what is asked from them and frankly someone who stops before high school may not be viewed very good. Even people having learning disabilities do their best to get higher and higher studies, so why should we encourage students to go for lower education levels?


You make the false assumption that the only way of learning is through school and then university. Many people would benefit much more through being able to have apprentiships to learn specific trades or jobs rather than more general schooling. We should face up to the fact that not everyone is suited to the type of education that schools provide and offer the choice of a different kind that also has the benefit of boosting the economy by turning those who would otherwise drop out of school into skilled workers.

edit: I did not look at the thread before posting now looking at it I see booji said something similar a couple of posts back.

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