They Said IT: The Paradox of Choice

3/29/2012 12:00:00 AM

One of my favorite TED talks is Barry Schwartz’ “The Paradox of Choice.” Schwartz makes the point that choice isn’t always a good thing and that at some point too many choices are as bad as no choice at all.

Thinking about the big challenge of changing the learning landscape in our schools is something that keeps many of us working tirelessly and often being frustrated with the results. Whether it’s a lack of resources, time, commitment or understanding, major barriers continue to exist that has meaningful change held at bay.

Research is pretty clear about the importance of choice, which leads to engagement, which leads to learning. I’m not sure I’ve seen any significant change happen when professionals aren’t given a choice. However in cultures that choose efficiency over emotion, often choice isn’t seen as essential and professionals get told what to do. What usually happens is that no matter what is told, professionals go back to their classrooms and do what they think is right regardless. We’ve been playing this game in education for a long time.

In his book, Evocative Coaching, Bob Tschannen-Moran claims that teachers do not resist making changes; they resist people who try to make them change. Once coaches abandon the role of change agent, we can build trust and rapport and engage teachers in nonjudgmental conversations about their experiences, feelings, needs, ambitions, and goals.

What’s really frustrating about that statement is that, while it’s true, it takes a long time and in the end, there’s no guarantee it will turn out the way leaders hope. Real change happens because we find strength and support to move forward with ideas we’ve adopted. Change agents might be useful to plant a seed, but that’s not the real change. Real change requires an investment in time to develop and nurture supportive relationships.

No amount of instruction or PD will matter unless a teacher wants to change. What we’re currently witnessing is pockets of change— teachers who are embracing what it means to learn today and are willing to make adjustments in their practice to make learning better for their students. I doubt if any of these teachers were forced to change. They had choice.

That’s both a great thing but also a frustrating thing. You may never see the change you’re so invested in if you allow teachers a choice. Unless we strip teachers from their professional status, we’re going to have to face the dilemma of the paradox of choice. We can change curriculum and design environments and schedules that promote certain types of learning, but as long we consider teachers professionals, they will operate as autonomous individuals. Create a culture where reflective and innovative practice is prized, but allow teachers to make the choice that’s owed to them.

I have no answers. I’m going to continue to plant seeds and when and where I can, build the relationships and support for those who have chosen to make a change.

comments powered by Disqus
Tweets
Photo GalleriesView All Galleries >
Acer C720-2844 Chromebook

(www.acer.com) The Acer C720-2844 Chromebook model delivers speedy performance, a quick boot time of seven seconds, and a matte anti-glare display tha...

Britannica ImageQuest

(www.britannica.com) Britannica Digital Learning has upgraded ImageQuest, a resource for schools and libraries that provides nearly three million rig...

ClassFlow

(www.classflow.com) Promethean has released ClassFlow, a free, all-in-one, cloud-based teaching tool that lets teachers create and deliver interactive...

Adobe Voice

(www.adobe.com) Adobe has released Adobe Voice, an animated video app for the iPad that lets users create and share video stories. The app incorporate...

DeskBoard

(www.boxlight.com) The BOXLIGHT DeskBoard mobile cart adjusts both height and tilt for the P8 ultra short throw interactive projector on a white surfa...

Core 36M

(www.bretford.com) Bretford has introduced Core 36M, a 36-unit charging cart that is optimized for Chromebooks but which also supports most tablets, l...

Edmentum Sensei

(www.edmentum.com) Edmentum Sensei is a mobile optimized solution that helps administrators visualize and track overall school, teacher, and student p...

HMH Player

(www.hmhco.com) HMH has released HMH Player, a new native app for iOS and Google Chrome that streamlines the learning experience for improved digital ...

Juice Power System

(www.bretford.com) Bretford has unveiled an easy-to-use modular power system with exchangeable power components. The Juice Power System uses unique &#...

LightSail

(www.lightsailed.com) LightSail Education has announced a literacy accelerator that combines books with in-text embedded assessments and real-time dat...

myON

(www.myon.com) myON has expanded its digital library to include a set of literacy tools to further personalize the reading experience for students whi...

Nervanix Clarity

(www.nervanix.com) Nervanix has released Clarity, an application that monitors student attention levels as they study and guides them to revisit conce...

MathBall

(www.robotslab.com) RobotsLAB has introduced MathBall, a smart sensor basketball and tablet system that offers curricula in algebra, pre-calculus, phy...

MobileAsset.EDU

(www.waspbarcode.com) Wasp Barcode’s MobileAsset.EDU solutions include everything administrators need to account for their assets, from software...

OpenEd Assessment Creation Tool

(www.opened.io) OpenEd has announced a free tool that lets teachers easily create assessments with the question types required by Common Core standard...

Panasonic TH-80LFB70U

(www.panasonic.com) Panasonic’s TH-80LFB70U interactive LED display features high-speed, multi-touch, interactive capabilities to promote partic...

penveu interactive display system

(www.penveu.com) The penveu interactive display system is a handheld device that turns projectors and large screen displays into interactive whiteboar...

PresentationPro

(www.califone.com) Califone has updated its PresentationPro speaker. The PA310 readily connects with computers, LCD projectors, mobile devices, intera...

PowerSync+ Mobile Companion App

(www.bretford.com) Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has announced the availability of the companion app for its PowerSync+ enabled charge and sync produc...

PureCharge Carts and Stations for iPad

(www.bretford.com) Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has debuted the PureCharge family of iPad and iPad mini charging carts and stations. By offering pre-i...

ProQuest Research Companion

(www.proquest.com) ProQuest’s new information literacy product, Research Companion, offers videos that guide users through the research process,...

Sphere2 & Class Send Student Engagement Software Platform

(www.averusa.com) AVer Information has developed a Student Engagement platform, providing teachers and students with the tools to transmit document ca...

TabChargeCT2

(www.averusa.com) AVer has released the TabChargeCT2 charge cart solution, which can hold up to 40 Chromebooks, iPads, Android or Windows tablets, lap...

VoiceLift with Instant Alert and Emergency Video Monitoring

(www.extron.com) The Instant Alert function of the Extron VoiceLift Microphone, combined with a PoleVault, WallVault, or PlenumVault classroom AV sys...

SMART Board 6065

(www.smarttech.com) The SMART Board 6065 is an ultra HD, 4K interactive flat panel that offers collaborative capabilities while ensuring lessons run s...

Gaggle Unity Partner Program

(www.gaggle.net) The new Gaggle Unity Partner Program provides free data integration services for all educational technology vendors. Through the Gagg...

Waterford Early Learning, Reading, Math & Science

(www.waterford.org) Waterford Early Learning Cloud can be used at home or to supplement lessons in classrooms. It can also be used for individual adap...

NetSupport School

(www.netsupportschool.com) The latest version of NetSupport School allows teachers to monitor and collaborate with any mix of technology. An enhanced ...

Camtasia

(www.techsmith.com/camtasia) TechSmith’s Camtasia gives teachers the tools to record lessons, create videos, and engage their audiences. Educato...

Panasonic 3E

(www.panasonic.com) Intel has teamed up with Panasonic to announce the Panasonic 3E, which uses the Intel Education 2-in-1 reference design. Designed ...