Compulsory Education Research Paper


Topic Overview

An acknowledged educator and theorist Sir Kenneth Robinson argues, “we’re all born with deep natural capacities for creativity and systems of mass education tend to suppress them” (n. p.). For cultural and economic reasons, students are often limited to developing capacities and skills that are dictated by a traditional educational system.

Compulsory system of education, therefore, does not allow individuals to uncover their full potential and learn the subjects they prefer to the ones established by the core curriculum. Moreover, mandatory education prevents students from choosing a set of subject they are most apt for and, as a result, the learning process turns into a challengeable path of knowledge acquisition.

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To cope with the problem of limited access to optional courses, as well as develop the balanced academic curriculum, it is necessary to make a radical shift to person-centered education and remove the obsolete instances of traditional education that focuses primarily on cultural and economic backgrounds.


The emergence of the compulsory education system in western societies dates back to the middle of the nineteen century. Before its adoption, the necessity to introduce a fixed set, of course, was not necessary because, according to Zhang, “…in the early nineteenth century the voluntary education market was already able to make American among the world leaders in public literacy and education” (29).

What is more important is that the statistics demonstrate that the percentage of literacy ranged from 91 to 97 in Northern states and more than 80 % in the Southern part. However, as soon as compulsory education has been adopted, more than half of the population is left illiterate.

Within the context of globalization and cultural diversity, introducing an educational policy of “common high lan earning standards for all” can create several controversies (McParland and Schneider 66). In particular, international students with culturally and economically diverse backgrounds should offer wider opportunities for fulfilling their professional and academic purposes.

In this respect, McParland and Schneider explain “when the mandates of the curriculum are too broad…and the tests are too narrow…the consequences may differ for students who begin at different points of academic preparation” (71).

In order to react to this problem, the research introduces the evidence of augmenting the number of sources that are necessary to graduate from university. Provided even high schools resist to the core curriculum, university program should exclude these standards to adhere to a libertarian principle in education.

Problem Identification – Effects

Student Unequal Access to Education due to the Fixed Curriculum

By establishing the core curriculum and compulsory educations, students will face a challenge of unequal access to education due to diverse cultural and historic backgrounds. This is of particular concern to universities at which international environment should be restricted by the standards accepted in a particular country.

As proof, Schinkel states that mandatory curriculum does not contribute to the development of students’ individual autonomy and independence (98). Rather, students’ blind adherence to the established set of courses will not motivate him to explore knowledge beyond the curriculum.

Additionally, the scholar explains that mandatory education relies mostly on the community interests to educate a person that can solve social challenges and contribute to the welfare of society in general. Although collective interest concerns an individual, it still fails to provide benefits for him/her.

At the same time, meeting the individual’s needs and concerns can help fulfill his/her purpose and, as a result, it will be possible to improve the community’s welfare as well.

Negligence of a Multiple Intelligence Theory

Numerous researches on multiple intelligences theory demonstrate that students’ performance cannot provide adequate outcomes as soon as standardized testing procedures and universal approaches are used. Therefore, compulsory education prevents students from revealing and developing their skills and talents.

The implications for eight types of intelligence do not show that, if a person has aptness for music, he/she does not necessarily have abilities for learning it. However, Barrington, “higher educational institutions tend to focus mostly on just two intelligence – verbal/linguistic and logical/mathematical – and teachers essential teach, test, reinforce and reward these intelligence” (423).

Consequently, the rest of the intelligence remain undeveloped and even suppressed by a mandatory curriculum that discourages advancing other talents, which is detrimental both to individual self-determination and to social welfare in general.

Compulsory Education as an Obstacle to Students’ Creativity

Creative thinking is not encouraged by the traditional core curriculum because most of the courses could not be either withdrawn or replaced with other subjects. So, if you study business, a student is supported by other peripheral subjects that he/she dislikes. The amount of time spent on learning these disciplines could be used more efficiently if the student had the right to choose.

In response to this problem, Kenneth writes, “people and organizations everywhere can see the current systems of education are failing to meet the challenges we now all face and they’re working furiously to create alternatives” (n. p.). Due to obsolete approach to learning, most educational programs fail to meet the constantly changing external environment, as well as predict demand on specific job positions.

Problem Identification – Causes

Estimating Economic and Political Background Putting Pressure on Student Choice

McParland and Schneider insist, “…official policies to increase curricular standards are often undermined or weakened before they take hold in actual practice because of a variety of political, economic and attitudinal forces” (71). In other words, the main task of the educational system lies in developing an adjustment mechanism that would allow teachers to regulate the constantly changing requirements to the academic curriculum.

Excluding the core subjects from the schedule can provide a clear picture of the competence level of the students engaged in the proposed curriculum. Additionally, the teaching schedule will also produce general guidelines for a future course.

Insufficient Flexibility of Educational System

The degree of flexibility of the educational system has a direct impact on the development of multiple skills among students. Theory of multiple intelligences, therefore, could be efficiently implemented as soon as education widens its opportunities for personal choice and self-determination.

Understanding the Importance of Equal Access of Students to Education

To highlight the underpinnings of creativity suppression by the standardized education, Robinson advises addressing to economic and cultural factors (n. p.). The economic factors rely on the academic curriculum that could fit in the economies of a country. It implies that the economic condition dictates which educational opportunities could be offered to an individual.

The second aspects correlate with a cultural and national background that introduce traditional patterns in an educational curriculum that does not comply with the changes occurred to a modern environment. As a result, students have to learn what has already passed, which prevent them from realizing the contemporary challenges.

Proposal Plan

Plan Description

Students who have study core courses often spend a considerable amount of time searching for the material that does not contribute to knowledge acquisition on the main subject. Adherence of a fixed set of courses does not allow students to spend more time on fulfilling their professional goals and engaging with the preferred disciplines.

In order, the change the situation, the educational board of universities should organize a committee that will conduct interviews and surveys discussing the most and the least favorite subjects.

Once the interviews and surveys are carried out, the new testing procedures should be introduced that can check the level of eight multiple intelligences that students can possess, although some of the intelligences are not inserted into a standardized academic curriculum. After the second phase of the project is accomplished, the committee should check the correlation between students’ preferences and the level of their competence in specific disciplines.

After the assessment, it will be possible to predict which groups and courses could be organized. Additionally, an individualized approach can also provide an approximate percentage of students with a range of skills. Further, research in universities can define the future course of reforms that should be introduced to the educational system.

Proposal Support


Relying on an individual-based approach to education can exclude some of the core courses set at universities. To support the issue, McNaught states, “cultural and linguistic diversity, while stimulating respect for cultural identity, traditions, and religions, is essential to the development of an Information Society based on the dialogue among cultures and regional and international cooperation” (208).

More importantly, constant assessment and individualized approach to culturally diverse students establish a firm ground for educational restructuring.

The restructuring process will specifically concern the management and control of an education process through educational staff should make conclusions and report on the statistics about the number of students interested in various subjects. Acting internally can provide global changes to an external political and economic environment.


Some research studies are dedicated to discussing the potential benefits of compulsory courses. In particular, Parnell and Statham have discovered that the compulsory courses involving Mathematics and English have turned out to be effective (870). However, both disciplines seem to be closely relevant to the profession and, therefore, the effectiveness of the mandatory curriculum is fully justified.

Counterargument and rebuttal

Some of the compulsory disciplines involved in the curriculum contribute to the professionalism and qualification even though they do not relate to the dominating course.

As a proof, Lister has discovered the overreaching role of literature in studying accounting because “it reinforces original, creative, imaginative and multicultural thought” (329). However, the study has several limitations because it cannot apply to other cases when two opposite discipline complement each other to provide fruitful outcomes.


In conclusion, offering a core course at university frustrates students’ independence as well as the freedom to choose the discipline that can allow them to promote their professionalism and competence. The presence of compulsory discipline is the sign of the obsolete traditional educational system that supports economic and cultural preconditions for community development.

However, the priority given to external factors does not meet the requirements of an individual approach to learning that implies focus on multiple intelligences development among students. At this point, the core curriculum should be replaced by a more balanced system in which students’ preferred discipline would coincide with their academic curriculum.

Works Cited

Barrington, Ernie. “Teaching To Student Diversity In Higher Education: How Multiple Intelligence Theory Can Help.” Teaching In Higher Education 9.4 (2004): 421-434. Print.

Lister, R. (2010). A Role for the Compulsory Study of Literature in Accounting Education. Accounting Education, 19(4), 329-343. Print.

McNaught, Carmel. “Understanding The Contexts In Which We Work.” Open Learning 20.3 (2005): 205-209. Print.

McParland, James M., and Barbara Schneider. “Opportunities to Learn and Students Diversity: Prospects and Pitfalls of a Common Core Curriculum”. Sociology of Education. (1996): 66-81. Print.

Parnell, Sheena, and Moira Statham. “An Effective Preparation for Tertiary Mathematics.” International Journal of Mathematical Education In Science & Technology 38.7 (2007): 869-879. Print.

Reidy, David. A. “Accomodating Pluralism: Liberal Neutrality and Compulsory Education”. Political Philosophy. 2012. Web.

Robinson, Ken. “”. TED Weekends. 2012. Web.

Schinkel, Anders. “Compulsory Autonomy-Promoting Education.” Educational Theory 60.1 (2010): 97-116. Print.

Zhang, M. “Time to Change the Truancy Laws? Compulsory Education”. Pastoral Care. (2004): 27-33. Print.

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