Middle school involves both freedom and choices.
Electives are a great example of this. The freedom to decide which classes to take is, for many students, a revelation. It brings the realization that decisions will not always be made by someone else, that as we age we get more and more control over how we spend our time, and that life contains seemingly endless possibilities beyond the ingrained pattern of math, social studies, and reading.
For almost every middle school student, the ability to control a few hours of every school day brings an almost intoxicating sense of power. This, every middle schooler must think when contemplating this newly-discovered power, is what George Washington was thinking all along.
But freedom is the easy part.
Making choices is a little more difficult. Every time we choose one path in life, we choose not to pursue another. Many middle schoolers confront this harsh reality for the first time when choosing electives. Choosing to sing with the choir may mean giving up journalism club. A choice in favor of the thrills of sawdust and band saws in Shop Class might require foregoing the delicious brownies of Home Ec.
Nothing is easy in life, and of course choices between brownies and band saws always seem insignificant in retrospect. Like, for example, when a person gets to college. Don’t even get me started on that. How to choose between two different paths, one leading to Physics for Poets and the other leading to Poetry for Physicists?