Day 93 (of 187) the paradox of choice
I freely admit to becoming more and more of a fan of Todd Rose. Love and share his book End of Average frequently. And I have taken a pause about one of his thinkings early on in the book: The Paradox of Choice
As he describes it: the paradox of choice can be the overwhelming experience of being in the shampoo aisle where you stare at so many/too many choices – often defaulting to either the cheapest one or one that is recommended to you (which is why Consumer Reports is so popular). It makes me think of how some people find Starbucks so overwhelming because the menu can be very personalized. Regular cup of strong coffe? Yep! So many flavourings that you can’t be sure that there is even caffeine in it, but there is so much sugar that who cares!?! But to be able to personalize that an “extra foam no whip double blond espresso vanilla macchiato with a hazelnut shot” isn’t even the weirdest order of the day! And that much choice can be overwhelming – even though by exploring and experimenting you can find out what the best shampoo is and what coffee is your flavour-ite (flat white, obviously! shampoo, I go with whatever is on sale for whatever hairs I have left).
I think about the paradox of choice in the educational front where, as I talk about personalized learning journeys, I often hear a share from Dark Horse: “you cant give them (students) the freedom to choose their education path, or they will just choose to do nothing”. <— I am surprised with this level of prophecy that these people do not regularly win the lottery!
Because I have often used the “limitation of choice” with my own children: this t-shirt or that one. Its not really a choice, though there is the gradual guided release of responsibility about what “making a choice” is.
And I wonder; is not making a choice a choice (but this is far more philosophical than I choose to be at this time – but it is making me want to pick up and re-ready my copy Sophies World – a fabulous book on the history of Philosophy – essentially a first year course in a mere 500 pages!)
This is why a mindset of the Dark Horse is: know your choices – whatever they may authentically be (and “choosing” between one class and another….thats a “pick”)
Luck is not a dark horse strategy. Though “serendipity” springs to mind; hearing the right conversation or reading the right ad at the right time can lead to a micro-motive catching fire (metaphorically!) I liken the times when I get contacted by different people about the same opportunity that has driven very positive choices. It’s not about taking riskier choices but how choices are evaluated….
A “standardized” mindset sees risks determined by odds (ie only 1 in 10 applicants will become a google programmer)
A “dark horse” mindset sees risk determined by fit.
The odds make sense to some….not all: “Never tell me the odds” said Han Solo (who knew his “fit” – he may have eventually been called a General, but he certainly wasn’t one in the traditional sense, but as Jyn Erson said in Rogue One (in the commercials but cut in the film) “this is a rebellion, isn’t it?….I rebel!” Sometimes you gots to know whom you is. You need to understand your individuality to know if the odds are relevant.
Great quote: …when you do something you love, you tend to become really good at it.
This is why I love #geniushour. To find a micropassion (or to exclude some shiny distractions)
But sometimes “know your choices” becomes harder when opportunities all look pretty pleasing (coincidentally today a twitter chat has inspired me to try a “choose your own adventure” for #madpd –> choice seems meaningful to me today). If /when you have something meaningful that could be lost, playing the odds starts to look appealing again (so often the thinking when teachers start thinking about a move…of grades, to PVP, to a new school/town).
Takeaway line around choice: Dark Horses don’t follow their passions; they engineer it by understanding and activating their micro-motives.
Success isn’t picking the right job/path/standardized option based on odds…. it’s finding purpose and making choices that connect opportunity and meaning to those choices. As we are seeing more and more in the process of learning, there is not a clear pathway to pick….more and more it’s about personalizing the learning journey and trusting that indeed, and more and more I believe that when left to pick their own education paths students may indeed pick to do nothing…but when authentic choice is involved….that changes everything and learners can do ….anything….!