I thought I'd make a topic about this here and see what everybody else thinks about it. Just so you know before reading the entire post, I am fourteen years old and I know math topics up to and including complex analysis. I wrote some of what I have been going through as well, so I thought I might as well mention it. The thing that has been bugging me is, is compulsory mathematics education necessary? Normally, this is a question I hear from those who aren't good at the subject, but even though I am and I like mathematics very much, I am still incapable of understanding why there exists compulsory mathematics education. I do think the same thing applies to science as well, but I am simply far more proficient in mathematics than in any other field, so I thought I'd make the topic math-oriented. The same idea also applies to people who like math, as they shouldn't have to learn literature, but they do. Don't get me wrong - math education indeed is necessary up to eigth grade, because it is simply life skills until then. If you buy three chocolate bars from a store, you won't have to ask the price for one when you come back again. This is an use of algebra that's common in daily life. What I'm talking about is abstract and pure mathematics, like precalculus topics. Just because we enjoy it and find it necessary does not mean that everybody else will as well. Indeed, science and mathematics are essential for human life - where would we be without them? However, are they necessary to be known by those who do not want to know them? Without fishers, we wouldn't be able to eat any fish; but we don't learn fishing, we go and buy fish from fishers. Don't you think the same logic applies here as well? In a TED talk about math education, the speaker, who was a math teacher at a high school, said: "I'm trying to sell a product to a market that doesn't want to buy it but is forced by law to." When you take a moment and think about it, it really does not make sense. The possible counter-arguments to this can be that students (well, most of them anyway) don't want to see any lessons at all, so if we go by this logic, we shouldn't have schools entirely. This logic is flawed in one way: We shouldn't have compulsory schools. People can go to school if and only if they want to, and you can't intervene with that. Sure, universities might require an initial knowledge of the non-compulsory topics, but if you want to get in a university then you might as well take your time learning those topics. If you don't, well, it's your life. In comparison to other topics, math has a certain vulnerability in arguments made with others: Some other lessons, like history, are perceived as "necessary for intellect" by the public. This may or may not be true depending on your definition of an intellectual, but what I do know is that not everybody has to be an intellectual! (Just for the record, I know history very well too.) This issue in general is complicated even more in the country I live in and a lot of other countries, where you can't attend a university without having a high school degree, making it "even more compulsory" (whatever that means). If I already know everything I'm going to learn up to 12th grade by 7th grade about the subject I want to study, why should I waste five years of my life in school? I would not be so discontent with the situation if it was merely wasting your time. You also have to go there every single day and waste most of your day as well, which strikes generally as being just weird. So basically, if you don't know math you are screwed, but if you do know math you are going to waste your time. How can you benefit from this disfunctional system? I say you can't. I don't know what to blame here, but I nominate the idea (and maybe the policy) of "liberal education", where everybody has to learn about everything up to an extent. I agree with the idea as a whole, but "the extent" at which general education must be stopped and specialized education should be introduced should be chosen so as to be beneficial instead of harmful. This is nothing else than sheer torment to students, those who can't do well and those who do well alike, and I haven't even mentioned the competitive examination systems existent in some countries; which simply discourage "bad" students even further. As I am not certain about the topic, I would like to ask you: What do you think? Should mathematics education (and in general, education itself) be compulsory? Why?