False Choice


Perhaps worse than no choice is a false choice.


A false choice is when we ask a student:
“What would you like?” and then ignore their preference.
“Would you like to start on Unit 2?”, knowing we are going to start Unit 2, nonetheless.
“What feedback do you have for me as a teacher?” and then promptly defend our actions.


A false choice conditions students to believe there are no real choices. Students learn not to trust that they have a say. They learn a question mark is just another type of exclamation point.


So, when we actually provide a real choice, they will give a blank stare. They will shrug, waiting for the inevitable instruction. Students learn they have no choice. Questions, they realize, are just instructions in disguise.


So, we come to believe that they are incapable of making decisions. That we must tell students what to do. So, we tell them more, and ask them less. 

Learned choicelessness is developed one interaction at a time.

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