Here Adam Smith (1723-1790) argues that the use of compulsion in schools is used primarily for the benefit of the teacher and the administration, not the students. Good lectures are usually well attended:
The discipline of colleges and universities is in general contrived, not for the benefit of the students, but for the interest, or more properly speaking, for the ease of the masters. Its object is, in all cases, to maintain the authority of the master, and whether he neglects or performs his duty, to oblige the students in all cases to behave to him as if he performed it with the greatest diligence and ability. It seems to presume perfect wisdom and virtue in the one order, and the greatest weakness and folly in the other. Where the masters, however, really perform their duty, there are no examples, I believe, that the greater part of the students ever neglect theirs. No discipline is ever requisite to force attendance upon lectures which are really worth the attending, as is well known wherever any such lectures are given.
About this Quotation:
Adam Smith has some sharp words to say on the matter of compulsory attendance at school. The “force and restraint” which