I’d be the first to accept that my life has been rather ‘country mouse’. Local country school, county college, rural employment, village life and School Business Leader in country town schools has been my pathway. I can’t help but resent it when I’m told that my roles haven’t presented any real challenge but they are often right in that I haven’t experienced inner city issues, widespread deprivation or serious recruitment difficulties.
I guess you could say that my choices have limited my experience but, even so, every school has its individual context challenges and being based in one of the lowest funded counties, with small pockets of serious deprivation, in one of the lowest funded schools in that county needs a resourcefulness and resilience of its own I’d say!
Throughout my life I’ve made choices, as we all have. Some good ones, some which, with hindsight, were perhaps not so clever. We make choices that shape our life and we live with them.
Some years ago, my son’s partner, a highly intelligent down-to-earth Liverpudlian with very different life experiences to my own made a passing remark that I’m often reminded of.
As firm and vocal advocates for LGBT rights my son’s family love nothing better than a shout at the television during political debate or the news.
On this occasion, the discussion centred around gay rights and the ‘expert’ said; “Of course, being gay is not a choice.”
My sons partner immediately responded; “What difference does that make? Do we not respect the choices people make on how they want to live their lives in this country?”
One small simple comment that I’ve never forgotten.
He’s right. It makes no difference whether a lifestyle is though choice or birth (that old nature vs nurture debate) the right to live our life, our way, should remain the same without imposing inequalities or limitations of opportunity.
We all make unconscious choices. I’m biologically female and, although I’ve never really thought about it, I choose to present myself as female. Of course, there are aspects of me that aren’t choice, my age for example, but again, my rights should be unaffected whatever my gender or whether I’m 30 or 60.
I do wonder whether the ‘It’s not a choice’ viewpoint actually takes away from the individual that right to choose, that right to own the choice they have made in how they want to live their life and with whom. A lot of the choices we make might not be conscious or deliberate but they are choices and we should allow ourselves to be proud of them and live our lives through them.
Also, by allowing for the ‘choice’, we take responsibility for ourselves and the consequences that our choices bring to our lives.
We like to think we live in a more enlightened world than 20 years ago but I sometimes think we’ve got a lot further to go before a majority can claim to be blind to gender, sexuality, nationality, age and race.
Whatever we choose (or don’t choose) for our own life’s pathway should not affect our rights to equality, respect and opportunity. But I think we also must embrace the fact that we all have the right to make our own choices, in all areas of our lives.