One of the most depressing things I’ve seen is that most children and even teenagers (and some young adults, too) have no idea why they are actually in school. You’d be hard pressed to find a student who could offer more than the shallow, ultimately meaningless answers of, “I’m supposed to learn/want to learn”, “I need to study in order to get a high-paying job”, or “I’m in school because my family/society requires me to be here”. Is this what the purpose of life should be? As several of my much older and wiser friends told me many times, “Life does not begin when you graduate; you have been alive for twenty-one years already, and hopefully you were actually living and not just looking forward to beginning to live once formal schooling was complete.”
Once young people reach high school age, many begin to strain at the restrictions placed on them. Staying cooped up in a building almost all day, every day, with the whole world tantalizing at the doorstep would be enough to drive anyone a bit crazy. Just when a person is leaving childhood and has the ability to function more independently they are told that the real world is not for them. Yet. There is always that carrot on a stick held out for high schoolers that someday they will be allowed the freedom to command their own lives… years down the road, of course, and only after they have met the standard of a government instituted one-size-fits-all program. It’s no wonder that college is so crazy; most young adults, after having little to no opportunity to direct their own existences, lose all semblance of balance and control in a frenzied party of liberation.
I have nothing against continued studies in education to further one’s knowledge for vocational purposes. But when I see high schools hindering the majority of students from having enough time or energy to explore their dreams or interests, many of which are far more “educational” than sitting at a desk all day, then I will question the establishment of high school as mandatory for all.