What does it mean to give a child a choice?

Stop asking children these seven questions (and ask these instead) is an interesting blog post that gives parents a list of questions they can ask their children as opposed to the statements and questions that most children typically receive. And while they are better alternatives than the typical comments from adults, they really only make the oppression of childhood and schooling a bit more bearable. This one was the most interesting to me: “Here’s your new kindergarten” vs. “What kindergarten do you want to attend?”

illusion-of-free-choice.jpg

The author was asked what kindergarten he wanted to attend when he was five years old. He is eager to point out what a "formative moment" it was for him to be asked that question. He said it let him know that he was "in control of [his] destiny" and that he "could think for [himself], rather than depend on anyone else to do [his] thinking for [him]." He "felt ownership over it."

Unfortunately, he didn't really have the choice after all. His parents gave him one of four options. Reminds me of the "school choice" proponents who only want parents (but not their children) to have the choice of coercive district public schools or coercive charter schools, or sometimes coercive private schools. If Self-Directed Education (e.g., unschooling, Abrome, Agile Learning Centers, Sudbury) is not one of the choices then it is not really school choice (see picture). 

Let's not just try to come up with questions that lead young people where we adults want them to end up, or that will make an oppressive situation a bit more bearable. Let's actually allow young people to take control of their education. Although that may seem radical, it is really just the humane, ethical, and right thing to do.