Whole Child Symposium

The Dilemma of Choice

The decisions we make today—for our systems, our schools, and our classrooms—will affect what all of our tomorrows will look like. This spring, ASCD hosted its inaugural Whole Child Symposium, a series of in-person and online events in which experts, policymakers, teachers, and students discussed education policies, processes, and practices and their influence on children, societies, and economies in the future.

Centered on the theme "Choosing Your Tomorrow Today," the symposium created a forum for debate with choice becoming an important topic across all of the events. Our experts determined that we need to not only engage, but also empower youth in their decisions and the decision-making process overall to prepare them for future success in higher education, employment, and civic life. If we are to change education, then it must change systematically to not only allow greater youth choice and voice, but also to develop those skills and attributes.

Empowering students in their choices—encouraged by teachers and in turn supported by policy and practice—would change how many schools operate and function. It places ownership back onto those who are at the center of the debate—the students—and redefines the roles of teachers and students as collaborators in learning. The key is choice.

  • Student choice according to their abilities and interests.
  • Teacher choice according to each child's learning needs.
  • School choice according to the values of the community.
  • Community choice according to its will.

How do we achieve these goals? Ensuring student choice and voice in the classroom is one thing, but relinquishing the education systems debate to others or claiming educators' stake in it is another. If educators do not own the profession and take a key stake in its evolution, then the vacuum will be filled by others, all of whom have a valid interest and role to play in the development of a strong, robust, and dynamic education system, though many may lack experiences and background in the craft of education.

Do we have the right to choose what education should be or must be? Are we educators, advocates, or both?

Throughout the summer, ASCD will be releasing video clips, commentary, action steps, and a report on the Whole Child Symposium events and discussions. You can also

  • Listen to and view the archived Town Hall, Live, and Virtual panel discussions.
  • Follow the conversation here on the Whole Child Blog and share your thoughts in the comments.
  • Pose your questions and suggest solutions on Twitter using the hashtag #WCSymposium2014.

Have you signed up to receive the Whole Child Newsletter? Read this month's newsletter and visit the archive for more strategies, resources, and tools you can use to help ensure that each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.

Follow the Whole Child Symposium conversation here on the blog, share your thoughts in the comments and by e-mail, and pose your questions on Twitter using the hashtag #WCSymposium2014.

Learn more at www.ascd.org/wcsymposium.

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