The problem goes way deeper than challenging smart kids, people are way more receptive to things that align with their intrests or abilities to a great degree, even people who aren't super exceptional tend to grow a lot faster, and screw around in class less if there's something they find interesting on hand. Many learn different ways too, a one size fit's all environmnt actively punishes people that don't perfectly fit inside their cookie cutter. Shop classes aren't available in many schools, as are classes that teach skills that are directly useful. Learning how to read and write well is important, but unless the student is some sort of potato they should have that down reasonably well before leaving grade school, and the stuff they do in other classes should keep the skills fresh and up to date; why put everyone through such classes and waste several months if not actual years of usable time in the process. Same thing with other mandatory classes, it's just english/reading tends to be the largest offender. I am willing to bet that the overwelming majority, not just the super smart kids have had their growth stunted by this system, even the ones that appear to have done well have mostly accumulated knowledge and skills that are mostly useless to most people in real life.