The Anatomy of a Decision

Looking back on my education, and listening to the kids in class talking about what they’re learning in school, and how schools are constantly changing the way they do things…I could only wonder one thing:

How did we ever learn how to use our minds?

The key word there is OUR. After all, we are all individuals who all have our own opinions of what’s happening around us. We have the power to decide for ourselves what is best for us and our futures. We take in so much information every day. Most of which we don’t even notice or think twice about. But this information still affects us. It contributes to our world views and affects the way we relate to not only our environment and the people in it but the world around us.

So, in all the years of education we get from the time we’re five until we graduate, what exactly does all our schooling teach us about how to make a sound decision? The closest thing I could come up with was the concept of having consequences to our actions. That’s pretty much it. I can’t recall for myself or from what I hear from students, anyone ever attempting to explain how to go about making a decision that is best for whatever situation we are in.

I think that’s a pretty important oversight.

We are given information that is supposed to prepare us for the great big world out there, but at no time are we really taught any tools to aid us in making a sound decision based on good judgement. Good judgement? How do we even know what good judgement is?

This affects me. I can’t just allow my students to move on with their lives without at least having a discussion on how to make a decision and how to determine the best course of action. So I decided to come up with something.

I decided to use the old pebble in a pond analogy.

I tell them that the pond is the problem and the pebble is the decision they make. Wherever they decide to drop the pebble will directly affect the pond or the situation they’re in. However, I also like to point out that often times, people are just interested in dealing with the problem at hand without a single thought as to how that decision will affect other things down the line, and into their future. So I take extra care in explaining the “ripple effect.” I make sure to let them know that everything is affected every time a pebble is dropped. It doesn’t matter where. There’s always going to be a ripple effect and that is what they need to pay attention to more than just the quick fix.

To really bring this message home, in my class we play improv games with the theme of “Decisions.” That’s when they get to explore the subject, and learn cause and effect through experiencing it in a scene or game. By the time they leave the class, they have a new appreciation and understanding of how a simple decision could potentially have long-lasting effects, positive or negative. And hopefully they learn how to read the effects of the ripples and use that information whenever they have a decision to make. I want them to see how it will come back to “bite them in the butt” if they’re not careful and also how it can have a long-term positive effect if they think it through.