I had to make a critical choice years ago about whether I wanted to devote my life to teaching at the collegiate level or at the high school level. It was a fairly agonizing decision, but I was at a point where the ability to take my understandings and begin the process of teaching outweighed all else. Recently, I have had to confront the child of that choice with a new one: Stay in middle school or move to high school. I think that the resulting choice of staying in middle school, as well as the dialectical process of such choices, is contingent on circumstances and conditions. Yet, there are core values that still must be honored and it seems to me that the actual choice is tempered between acknowledging the importance of both elements.
Two roads diverged in a woods, and (lately it seems) I keep choosing the one that is more familiar that is more safe. I am currently in a very safe place professionally in a small city that I know very well. It is safe and predictable and that's great, it is safe and predictable and that's not so great.
Ms. Hurn (previous post) has challenged me to take a look at my life as it is. She has made me wonder if it's time to break out of my comfort zone.
And maybe that will make all the difference..
Several years ago I had an opportunity to move across the country and accept a teaching position in a very large and excitng city. Taking the new job would mean leaving my home and current job in a small town, both of which were safe, secure, and comfortable. It would mean moving from a very small rural high school into a very large innercity school. The salary and benefits were better, but not that much better, considering moving and living expenses. However, the new job offered change, professional challenge, and a chance to meet new people and live in a different part of the country. It also offered a chance to work with students from many different cultures.
After giving it a lot of thought, I took the new job. I traded the known for the unknown, the safe for the challenging, the same for something new and different. I chose to move out of my comfort zone, and it was a good decision. I learned a lot and met some great teachers and students I would never have known had I stayed home.
I just made a professional decision that required a trade-off. I had to decide whether to stay in my current job, which included the risk of being unemployed in September, or resign my current position and accept another job offer, which is located further from my home and will require me to leave my house much earlier in the morning.
I had to make a tradeoff, more travel time, getting up earlier, leaving my house earlier in the morning for job security. I had to give up the closeness of my current position, which was a 5 minute drive from my home because there was no security in the continuity of the position.
It was a difficult decision, but I decided the trade-off, security in exchange for closeness to home, because in the long run, I need a job!
In my professional work I have to make so many decisions involving trade-offs between conflicting requirements. But these are easy as usually these are based on systematic and cold considerations of pros and cons.
But when it comes to decision involving personal stakes, the things are different. When I look back on some of most critical of such decisions, I realize that many decisions were based on conviction and made on the spur of moment, rather on trade-offs. In some of these decision I had to take serious risk of personal injury by violent labour unions and criminal elements.
Even some major decisions of my life, like choice of a career, is the result of my fascination with consulting profession, rather than any calculations.
Yes there have been many many decisions based on trade-offs, but right now I cannot think of a single one, interesting enough to talk about, except as an example of one or the other type of analytical technique.