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The Choice Trap: This AND That. Not This OR That.

Sridhar Ramanathan also blogs at www.ideasrs.com.

This is the story of a mother and daughter. And the unique way in which the mother made a crucial decision.

The daughter PS was in her final year SSC. Mathematics was not her favourite subject. “When I see those numbers and formulae I feel as if insects are crawling on the page” she would say. Otherwise a bright kid, the girl was petrified of maths – especially algebra and geometry.

All her classmates were attending a variety of tuition classes. Her parents had decided against burdening her this way.  At the same time they realized that she definitely needed additional help in mathematics.

Her mother’s friend was conducting maths classes for students like her. Private tuitions for a bunch of about 15 students. The teacher put in a lot of efforts, made sure the the students had sufficient practice with question papers from the past etc. As a result her students did quite well in their final exams, scoring good marks.

PS attended the tuition class for the first day and returned home feeling quite despondent. She told her mother that the teacher spoke in a different language.

“What language?” the mother asked.

“Algebra & Geometry. I could not understand a word of it.”

“Can you not ask questions if you did not understand?”

“No. She thinks I am quite bright.”

The mother realized the problem. She approached another family friend who used interesting ways to teach algebra and geometry. She was happy to help. However she said that PS would benefit by being in a group.

Here was the choice facing the mother. The daughter preferred the second teacher, who was patient, empathetic and kind. More importantly she had interesting ways to help PS understand concepts. PS felt very comfortable with her. However she felt that PS would benefit by being in a group.

The teacher who conducted the tuition class in a group had a different set of benefits to offer to the child.

Should the mother settle for the innovative ways of the second teacher or the tuition class of the first?

Meanwhile the daughter continued with the tuition class. Hated the class but enjoyed being with her friends.

Then the mother wondered “What if she did both? What if she went to both teachers?” She knew that the innovative teacher would be amenable to this idea. She asked her nevertheless, and the lady agreed.


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Sridhar Ramanathan is the Founder of IDEASRS, where he is also a Strategic Innovation Coach. Sridhar’s mission in life is “to help those who want to do things better and differently”. His work involves conducting creative problem solving workshops for clients, and buidling competencies in creativity and innovation. He also blogs at www.ideasrs.com.

3 thoughts on “The Choice Trap: This AND That. Not This OR That.

  1. Ramya

    Sridhar, I have a slightly different point of view – ‘This and that’ , is this not the problem? That parents and children are guilty of wanting everything.

    Parents want their children to learn certain things yet want to be their ‘friends’

    Children want ‘to chill’ and succeed….

    Somewhere, should we not accept that there are hard choices to be made?

  2. Meera

    Shridhar nice post, we were in a similar situation with our daughter recently. We let both options run and when the time was right made a choice and our daughter was happy. Guess as parents we need to understand that we do not have to make a choice always and in some cases wait it out and make the choice.


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