Choice is all the rage these days. Giving kids a chance to explore and devrlop ideas on theor own seems like such a wonderful idea. But, where do we balance the desire to give kids choices and allow them a say in their education, with the difficulty of expectations that arise in public education.
I do believe there is a balance between being the “old school” kind of teacher who forces kids to do it “my way” and the “democratic school” style that has been experimented with in several areas (with some success). There must be a way to strike the right cords and play the perfect symphony of choice and requirements.
Through concepts like project based learning, book choice, and creating more student friendly learning spaces for student engagement, students get to maintain some choice. While it is not a total choice ideal and not enough for some, it is at least a start. Creating some sense of ownership helps to create a classroom where kids feel valued and maintain an interest in learning as they grow.
There needs to be a shift in educational mindset. Allowing kids to have certain levels of choice should not be considered novel or a fad, but should be part of what educators consider best-practice. It is time we stopped thinking of education as things we do “to kids” and instead something we share “with kids”. What is the perfect balance is for kids? I am not certain there is ONE perfect balance, but instead a collection of states of balance that are acceptable. Ideally you are inspiring kids to learn and to love learning without creating a stressful and uncompromising environment.