We adults are so afraid of what will happen if we let students lead themselves! If they are given the chance to follow their passions, maybe they will all make dirty bombs or numb their minds with constant World of Warcraft playing. Or listen to violent music and go shoot up a McDonalds! Who knows what awful things will result from letting kids go?
Seriously, why would the giving of respect to young people end up with them wanting to reject everything adults want for them?
And we do want a lot for them. We anxiously watch over our kids and hope they will be happy and self-sufficient. We worry about the times we live in and the world they will be entering as adults. Why would continuing the disempowerment of them as students help them be able to follow their dreams, make an impact on the world or just live happily in their corner of it?
It's lack of respect that creates rebellion, and in that case, it's rebellion that is appropriate, rebellion that we created as the folks in authority. Respect children for who they are. What's inside them, where they want to go. Respect them before they ever get a sense that who they are is not wanted or valued: that means kindergarten.
Ask kids what they want, ask kids how they want to get it, ask kids who they want to help them, ask kids what they will achieve. And then listen. And then act on it. Provide them with resources: time, space, technology, teachers, mentors. Ship them to the places most appropriate for them to learn what they need to know, because it probably isn't in the school building.
What will you have as a result? Exactly what you want. Kids who are literate, knowledgable, self-motivated, self-respecting, productive, helpful, active.
You want the world for your students? Let them grab it for themselves.