Whenever possible, I find ways to provide opportunities for those around me to make choices. Not only does it make my life less decision-laden, but also it signals to others that my opinion is not the only one that is important. Often these are not serious, life-changing decisions. Would you rather have beef or chicken for dinner? Would you prefer restaurant A or B?
This is extremely important in the classroom where the decisions impacting children are generally made by others. It’s time to get up. It’s time to go to bed. Now we’re going to do math or science or physical education.
While adult life consists of many mandatory acts such as getting an education or training, getting a job, finding places to live, etc., we adults make other numerous daily decisions. My opinion is that this requires practice and acquired expertise.
It wouldn’t be fair for me to require difficult choices of my students. That would include such subjects as curriculum or reading material. Some books are part of board of education guidelines but I enjoy being with students in the library where they can explore new subjects, learn different blocks of information or simply journey the exciting path of reading for pleasure.
My choice-making strategy doesn’t render me a renegade educator. Here’s how it works: It’s Fun Friday. Do you want to have self-directed activities, computer time or craft-making? Would you rather use crayons or markers or colored pencils?
Not surprisingly, I get copious positive reactions from my students. In a few cases, they want to remind me what they normally do in this time slot. Straying from the familiar is sometimes difficult. In others, they celebrate the occasion to exercise free will.
Our mission should be to prepare our young people for their roles in adult civilization, without stress. Causing them to choose between parents or places to live goes far beyond what they are able to handle. But little choices facilitate big ones, especially if they are between two rewards. Shalom.