I despise being micromanaged or having to micromanage others. I try not to give ultimatums, which means I try to provide enough choice to myself and people around me, so no one feels controlled, probably because it is the thing I loathe most in the world. However, I am constantly confronted by the consequences of giving too much choice – especially when I design major assignments.
Recently, I introduced the next writing project by conducting a freewrite geared toward generating topics. My students were prompted to write about what angered them, inspired them, or interested them. I want my students to examine and analyze the politics in everything. It annoys me when they avoid the political. For example, a student just the other day asked if she could write about glitter “because it’s just happy.” She acrobatically attempted to be apolitical. How can’t they see that even something as frivolous as glitter can be politicized?
Then I remembered that the freewriting exercise was intended to give them choices for which they eventually choose an article. What I learned from hearing their ideas – “what if we write about the Book of Revelations” – is that I need to impose more structure, and structure can be guidelines which are not the antithesis of choice.