Apart from the mandatory aspect of it, I thought of another problem.
It is not just that it is mandatory in and of itself, it is that what produces a creative and open minded person is not present in the school system. Our history books often are twisted to paint our respective country in a positive light and "them" - the supposed enemies - in a negative light. There are two sides to every story and yet in school we do not get them, if we're even lucky enough to get a comprehensive picture of one.
Questioning is discouraged. Conformity, likewise, encouraged. There is a prison-like feel to it: break the rules, you will pay. These books are banned: don't read them, you'll get in trouble. THIS is what you should learn, not that. The amount of things people are interested in are much more than what we are exposed to in school.
One last thing is of course the respect demanded of the students but not given back.
Were school to be mandatory (not that I support it, but just for the sake of argument) yet there was more information and means to get that information available I think we would definitely see some changes in the behavior of people. There will always be those able and willing and capable to run their own lives, and to be unusual in a variety of contexts, but their numbers are dwindling because of the education system which promotes all the wrong values and promotes very few right ones. Were people to recognize different races and experiences and such things would change for the better. It is not the system itself that is damaged, it is the treatment of the customers within the system. And of course, considering how some people have a financial investment in keeping things the way they are, that's hardly surprising.Commentary by SoulRiser on June 23, 2009 @ 11:27 PM