A post directed at students (but applicable to adults):
A lot of our time at school is spent in an effort to reach a certain level of understanding and achievement. We read, solve problems, write, discuss, collaborate and problem solve—all skills necessary to improve as a student.
However, you must also be aware of a “hidden curriculum” in school that is equally important. One aspect of this curriculum is effective decision-making. Students who are able to analyze situations and make well-founded decisions about how to act (or react) will be much better prepared for their social and educational future, and ultimately personal independence. School presents daily opportunities to practice making informed decisions. For example, students might face the following dilemmas: study for tomorrow’s math exam, or hang out with friends; stand up for someone who is being bullied, or ignore the issue; participate in a class discussion, or remain disengaged. You get the picture. It has often been said that the right decision is not always the easiest decision–in fact, this is frequently the truth. In many instances, we don’t have a lot of time to analyze the situation, but giving the decisions we make some thought will generally lead to a better outcome.
One of my favorite sources of inspiration related to making informed decisions is a brief poem written by Theodore Geisel—also know as Dr. Seuss. Mr. Geisel presented, “My Uncle Terwilliger on the Art of Eating Popovers” as the commencement speech at Lake Forest College in 1977.
My Uncle Terwilliger on the Art of Eating Popovers
My uncle ordered popovers
from the restaurants bill of fare.
And, when they were served,
he regarded them
with a penetrating stare…
Then he spoke great Words of Wisdom
as he sat there on that chair:
“To eat these things” said my uncle,
“you must exercise great care.
You may swallow down what’s solid…
BUT…you must spit out the air!”
And…as you partake of the world’s
bill of fare,
That’s darned good advice to follow.
Do a lot of spitting out the hot air.
And be careful what you swallow.
As the poem indicates, when making decisions we do have to take the time to examine the situation and determine what is important…and what isn’t. When you encounter difficult decisions, take a few moments to analyze the problem, think about the potential outcomes and impact on others and then do the right thing. Like anything worthwhile…good decision-making takes practice and school is a good time to begin perfecting this skill.