High schools are structured in such a way that they allow students a wide range of educational opportunities, exposing them to mathematics, science, social studies, and sometimes though, sadly, not always the arts. This allows for schools to give their students a strong foundation of courses in order to prepare them for college and the additional foundations they will find there while they struggle to settle their minds about the rest of their lives.
Forcing these particular classes, however, may provide a strong foundation for students, but unfortunately leads to an unanticipated problem; students are rarely encouraged to think for themselves, and more often than not discouraged from exploring other avenues. Though most high school programs allow for some manipulation of the schedule a higher level course, art or band, and so on few allow a student to focus on the courses that they are most interested in, and instead spread the student’s ability thinly over a cadre of courses that he may or may not show interest in, sometimes resulting in educational burnout and apathy.
Though mandatory class allocation has its benefits in that students are allowed to see what they may be interested in, when a student has graduated from freshman to sophomore, and then from sophomore to junior, he is typically capable of deciding of his own accord whether studying mathematics or science will be to his benefit. If a student has developed a firm distaste of the subject, then mandating another year will hardly contribute anything to help the situation. A student who is a poet at heart will likely find little to gain from an anatomy class as opposed to, say, an exploratory English course.
The proposition then changes: why add another mandatory course that a student will find unnecessary when, instead, higher-level students should be allowed more freedom with their class schedules, and more options presented to them in regards to what they want to study? In this way, more obscure but potentially fascinating classes a course in psychology or anthropology, for instance will be available for selection if a student so desires to explore that particular avenue, allowing him to broaden his horizons at his own leisure. The less daring can continue to cling to traditional scheduling structure if they are more comfortable, or if they don’t quite know what they like, and those desiring more freedom of study or have an idea of the avenue of life they wish to pursue will be allowed to follow their schedule, as well.
Ultimately, the concept of mandatory classes is a question not of what additional class should be made mandatory, but what classes should be deregulated. It is through freedom of choice, rather than forced exploration, that students are able to better cognize and learn; one who has no interest in trigonometry should not be forced to take the class, just as somebody who wants to learn world religions should be given an opportunity to do so.