Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

The Choice to Change

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When my daughter refuses to get dressed, I always entertain the notion that she might not like what ai want her to wear. Often, changing the clothes or giving her a choice does the trick. Occasionally she really just doesn’t wanna get dressed and it’s just a struggle for power and imposing her will. If it’s too cold I heat the room and leave for a few mins. She may be in a bad mood or whatever and unable to express it. She comes around eventually.

I do something similar with students. If I find resistance to a reading (happens sometimes) or assignment (doesn’t happen much, but can happen with individuals) I consider either changing it, or providing more support/scaffolding. Occasionally, no matter how much individual attention I give a student to understand what is making them resist doing the work… I can’t reach them. Thr best I get is all their assignments done in one go at end of semester (have had two such instances). I always imagine they might have something personal going on that they just couldn’t share with me.

So I am just thinking this really simple thought: sometimes what we need to do when someone doesn’t want to change is give them a choice. It may or may not work. But it’s start

One Comment

  1. In a trusting situation I think choice acknowledges the authenticity of the situation. The power dynamic would normally read as “I claim your power to do as you want as nil” to something like “we have a real situation that needs your response.” The trust comes in to quiet the the idea that “this is what Mom wants” making it into just another situation where something needs to be done.
    Have to be careful with this as it could be seen as manipulation or trickery and received as only “another way to MAKE ME do things.” In non threatening / safe situations allowing choice reinforces a person’s ability to make decisions from information they can see themselves and act on it. We all know people who always seem to be waiting for instructions and I bet they were never given choices.

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