Sunday, March 4, 2012

Public educators: it is time to make a decision!

I recently purchased a new pack of gum by Mentos. It is called "UP2U" and it allows the consumer to choose between seven fruity pieces of gum or seven minty pieces of gum depending on your mood or need. When I curiously opened the pack to reach for the choice that would satisfy my current hankering, I noticed a quote from Napoleon Bonaparte in the interior of the pack of chewy goodness: "Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide." Why is it that a company specializing in freshening the breath of humans has figured out what our public schools so desperately need? I believe it is because they see the power that choice has among people, among customers. Unfortunately, our schools are scared to offer choice all too often for fear of losing control. In education, our customers are our students and parents. One of the best things we can do for our customers, our students, is to allow them to choose in every aspect possible. After all, choice; the power to choose is what sustains us as a human race. One has to look no further than the greatest governments who allow the people to choose their leaders. Or, look at the successful enterprises such as Starbucks which allow the people to choose their desired products just the way they like 'em (I can get my caffeinated tasty beverage any way I like... Mmmmmmm!). Look at our entertainment industry: American Idol, perhaps the most successful television series of the first decade of the 21st century allows viewers the ability to interact and choose their favorite singer.  We, as public educators, need to tap into the power of choice more frequently if we want to sustain best practices in teaching and learning. When students are allowed to choose, they are more apt to authentically engage (Schlechty) in the learning experience. When students are given license to decide what and how they want to study, than they can reach rigor more appropriately... After all, who decides what is difficult for you? That is right, you do. Students know better what is rigorous and difficult and what is not. All of this brings us back to Bonaparte's insight, "Nothing is more difficult (rigorous), and therefore more precious (memorable), than to be able to decide." As a school leader, I am encouraged to continue to fight for students and teachers as they decide each and every day what is important in the realm of teaching and learning. This is my decision, what is yours?


  1. What would you allow them to choose? Their school? Their style of learning?

    1. Good questions! I was a student who grew up going to a school out of zone because my parents believed so strongly in choosing schools. I still believe this! I believe we should be able to choose where we attend.

      In addition, I believe allowing choice among students in terms of how they learn best is a solid approach. In my experience, this is a MUST if we want authentic engagment. What say you?


It's not the "Moment of Silence" right now... somebody leave a comment and get the conversation started!!