Or Deciding Not To

A person’s ability to choose, as well as his right to choose, is the essence of freedom. How well he learns the skills involved in the process of choosing determines his power of self-determination, his freedom of choice.   Paul Woodring, from A Fourth of a Nation, 1957

I believe it is fair to say that a person’s ability to choose is an important skill throughout the lifespan. How well a person learns the skills of decision making is a significant factor in how well the person succeeds in life. Reading, writing and arithmetic are also important skills to learn; and they are taught in all public schools. Decision making, to my knowledge, is not taught in any public schools. This has been a sore point in my career; it still is and it is the reason for this blog. I want to complain.

Beginning in the late 1960s, and for many subsequent years, I was a strong proponent of offering decision making courses, required or elective, in public schools. After Sputnik in 1957, science and math became the most important skills to be learned. Art and music courses were neglected. Decision making didn’t have a chance. But I continued my campaigning for decision making courses.

Supported by the College Board in the early 1970s, I was coauthor of such a decision making curriculum for Junior and Senior High School students. * The quote by Paul Woodring above comes from that curriculum. The program was popular for awhile but soon faded. Since that time courses in critical thinking and creative thinking have been offered. To my knowledge, still no decision making curriculum.

Today, and for the past several years, decision making has been a popular topic in the book store and magazine literature. Adult courses and workshops are also popular. I do not understand how or why the skill of decision making isn’t considered something students could/should learn in school. As far as I know, decision making is still not taught in schools. This sore point still hurts. If you know of some examples, I would be delighted to hear.

  • Deciding, 1972; Decisions And Outcomes, 1973, College Board                                                  H B Gelatt, Barbara Varenhorst, Dick Carey, Gordon Miller



This entry was posted in Beliefs. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Robert Leon says:

    Your complaint has been duly noted. If I had to choose I would still put critical thinking ahead of decision making. Check out “the Stone” on Google. Many, many interesting blogs there. 9 am at Bills on Saturday?

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Eugene Unger says:

    You can teach a mans brain how to choose, but he acts from his heart . Can you teach his heart?

    Sent from my iPad


  3. Eugene Unger says:

    Tuesday breakfast is good. Come this way. See you then. Bring your heart

    Sent from my iPad


  4. Fontana says:

    I would doubt that decision making is taught in schools–right along history. I understand some schools do not teach Am. History. Not sure if that is in elementary schools or upper level.

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