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“The Art Of Choosing”

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Sheena Iyengar on the art of choosing is an excellent new TED Talk.

She gives a fascinating nuanced perspective on how “choice” is interpreted and valued by different cultures. Here in the U.S., according to Iyengar, we tend to value individual choice. In one of her experiments, Anglo children in this country did much better on tasks when they were given choices, while Asian children did better when others made the choices for them.

In the classroom, I always look for opportunities to provide students choices, and a lot of research backs up that perspective. However, apart from Iyengar’s work, I haven’t seen anything that separates it by ethnicity or culture. If she’s right, I wonder how choice might tend to be viewed by students of other ethnicities in our classroom? My suspicion is that they might have preferences for the ability to make more of their own choices.

What do you think?

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

One Comment

  1. Hmm I am a teacher in New Zealand, and I have had 5 filipino students in my class in a room of 30 students. I would say that while New Zealand students love choice, give them an idea and they run with it. Filipino students are more ‘straight’, they are used to a different education system I think. They are somewhat lost when I give choice. So when I read about Asian children doing better with a more structured approach I am not surprised. I wonder is it their education systems or something more?

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