Here is an idea few will credit: let young adults do what they like. Why do we object to this idea? Do we think young adults are too irresponsible to make decisions about how to use their time? Do they lack guideposts for these decisions? Do they not know when they need someone else’s advice? Do parents and others grant freedom too gradually?
Why do we force young adults to attend school?
In fact, young adults have plenty of guideposts. Cues from peers are far stronger during adolescence than at any other period of life. As children become adults, peers replace parents, to a greater degree than most parents care to admit. If you do not trust the influence that age mates have on your children when they reach adolescence, you have to ask what went wrong.
Naturally this idea goes straight to a subject that few want to think about at all: compulsory education. Why do we force young adults to attend school? Every justification for this practice fails on both practical and idealistic grounds. Most justifications for forced instruction rest on habit, false projections, and perceived self-interest.
People, least of all young adults, do not like sudden change, especially change that affects their social circles, their emotional health, or their long term futures.
Suppose every school district in the country said, at the same time, “You do not have to come to school today, or tomorrow, or the day after that.” I believe you would see little change in short term behavior. Students and families would exercise their new freedom gradually. People, least of all young adults, do not like sudden change, especially change that affects their social circles, their emotional health, or their long term futures.
Consider these thoughts before we end. Main arguments for compulsory education include literacy training and civic education. Do people who force adolescents into school believe they would not learn to read and write, if we did not require them to do so? Second, as an article of faith in our republic, we believe that for people from different cultures, backgrounds, and beliefs to live together, they ought to have a common education. Look around you. Has a common education resulted in social cohesion?