I've been hearing this more and more these days, so I'm going to rehash the same thing hundreds before me have said regarding post-secondary education (college and university):
"Coming out of high school at the age of 17-18 and having to choose something to do for the rest of your life could have dire consequences."
What do I mean by that? It means that making such a huge decision like deciding what they'll want to do career-wise could become a large burden for the rest of their life. And the thought of not choosing and the stigma associated with not knowing is scary. It's pure evil to pressure youths to choose, especially when most probably don't have the capacity to foresee their lives 5-10+ years down the line.
"Well, those that do are simply stragglers. Most people make it out fine." As Sir Ken Robinson says, they do it despite the system, not because of it. The whole notion of forcing kids to standardization seems strange. Especially since everyone is quite different. So why should the curriculum be any different? For efficiency's sake? Then are you treating kids as nothing but an object or commodity? That's as unethical as can be.
"But that's equality!" I don't believe in equality. Equality always divides. Equality is giving everyone peanuts, despite some having peanut allergies. In the end, equality crumbles apart. I believe in justice, to be accommodating to differences, so everyone can be a little happier.
"But it was always this way. Look at our parents, they turned out just fine." Yeah, but that type of reasoning exist in every generation. The landscape was completely different when our parents were our age. It's always been like that, generation to generation. Look, in the Victorian Era, most people were uneducated and could still make a living during labour. There's no way that would be the case in our parents generation, so saying that our generation should be able to do what they did is hypocrisy.
So where do I rest in this topic? I want to see the institutions burn to the ground while I happily roast chestnut in the blaze of glory. Yes, I want to see some drastic educational reformation within my lifetime. Whether by my direct action, or having others use my stuff.
So, if you ask me whether I choose society or the individual, 9 times out of 10, I would pick the individual. Let the institutions burn. Let society turn to dust. Society has no feelings. People do. Students find their passion? Good. I will support them all the way. They want to improve and become the top? I will do as much as I can to make that happen. All for the sake of raising students that respect their life (something I failed to do).