In the place where I live, the curriculum is defined by school administrators or government officers for primary, secondary and high school. College teachers/professors enjoy some freedom on selection of textbooks and how they teach. But they still have to use the curriculum given by the National Department of Education, which specifies the contents and objectives of the courses. In some areas, students are allowed to choose some subjects among a list of ones the school can offer. However, there is always a list of must-attend courses and a minimum credit requirement to get the graduation certificate.
Of course the students need to learn certain basic knowledge, such as language and mathematics, to live a normal life(have basic living skill). But I think that it is also very important that the students be given more freedom in determining what(and how) they study and how they study.
First of all, interest makes learning effective.
Driven by interest, the students naturally think actively about the knowledge being taught in classroom or textbook and willingly probe deeper to the essence of the subject. On the contrary, if the students are learning simply because they are required to do so, most likely they just passively memorize the things that the teacher tries to stuff into their head.
Moreover, being involved in developing their own curriculum, the students learn the process of making decisions. They would understand that the decision is not to be purely(merely) based upon their instant feeling of preference, but to be based upon the need for substantial knowledge, resources that are available, and the projected results. Feeling that they are trusted to make big decisions, gradually they learn to be responsible for themselves as well as others that are around them.
Last but not least, the skills and methods are...