This chapter was written about changing pedagogy in German elementary schools where children’s autonomy and free choice is increasingly encouraged. Czerwenka describes an action-research approach which involves systematic observation of individual pupils, at points in the day when they have free choice. The author’s own observations raise questions of the extent to which enabling a child to choose is in fact empowering to them. His questions include the following. To what extent are children able to choose meaningfully (that is, in their own terms), and to what extent are they held back or inhibited? To what extent may free choice allow a child to regress? How important is the opportunity to refuse, and how significant is the chance to seek contact with others in a way that involves passivity in a potentially dynamic situation?*
Social freedom and economic mobility have now long since made their way into childhood. Even our small fry have already become individualists, not only because many children are now growing up as single children, but also because they have the opportunity to develop their special interests quite early. There are clothing, housing, leisure time, pets, toys, books, and media markets especially for children. Training of subjectivity begins earlier and earlier in our modern era.