Should students be given absolute freedom about their life choices?


In the complex modern schooling system and curriculum of the twenty-first century, choosing subjects and activities from the vast array of available options is no less than a dilemma for any child. It is a choice that will shape the course of the child’s path, determine what life he or she will live. With this, therefore, arises the question: Should this choice be left to the primary stakeholder, the child, or should the parents have the right to make this significant choice?
Probably the strongest argument for minimizing parent involvement is that of upholding the fundamental right of choice. It is the belief that every individual, being a separate entity, should be able to make their own life decisions, and surely a decision as important as this, that will affect the very quality of their lives should be made by them. Equally important is the fact that the individual alone can only truly understand the circumstances they face. A child too, has likes or dislikes for different subjects and activities; defines, understands and ponders over his or her life goals and future prospects, and knows how to go about achieving them.
At school, a child is exposed to different environments and activities, and starts to then show an interest in, and liking for some. Being a rational individual, the child is able to make a choice. Indeed, it would not be amiss to say that this choice itself is only of value when made by the child.
It is also true that the child will only be truly happy studying a subject or pursuing an activity when he or she consented to doing it in the first place. In recent times there have emerged several popular fiction films and books that highlight the very unique contentment of doing what you really want to, whilst displaying parents’ attempts to pressurize their children in a criminal light. It is a fact that this problem is prevalent to a great extent in third world countries, where parents in their drive to escape the cycle of poverty, force their children to pursue careers they believe will result in escalation of their social status and bring in money. In doing this, they often make the child feel ‘cornered’ and ‘helpless’, leading to regrettable consequences such as increased anxiety, depression, and rising suicide rates.
On the other hand, the fact still remains that children, while being immature, are also lacking in life experiences, and as a result cannot be expected to make rational decisions. Moreover, we see this principle being applied everywhere in society. A child under eighteen is in the guardianship of its parents, and as a result, all important decisions should be made by the parents. This is seen in the parents choosing the child’s school, name and even religion, the child not being allowed to vote, and even the parents’ consent being required to send the child to a field trip.
Therefore, at a young age, the child is not mature enough and cannot know what he or she is signing up for when choosing a particular subject or activity. They require specialized guidance from someone who has experience. Schools also put that principle into practice when they have facilities such as workshops for subject selection, and in the form of guidance counsellors. On the other hand, whilst the child needs help to be able to make a decision, that decision, if not in line with his or her interests can prove to be a detrimental one.
In conclusion, it would suffice to say that while parents should definitely be involved in the decision making process for their child’s future, this should not take the form of compulsion or coercion, and the final decision should be left to the child.