Fostering Social Responsibility

At a meeting of representatives from the schools, a very interesting comment was made. A
representative said that her school did not have major discipline problems. The concern of the school had to do with the social skills and responsibility that students would carry with them
when they left the school, i.e., the influence the school would have on them in the future.

The comment struck a very tender spot with me—one that brought to mind how I got started and
why I am doing what I do.

I returned to the classroom after 24 years in school counseling, supervision, and administration—looking forward to the joy of once again working with young people. The prime factor that struck me more than any other in my observation of students was that so many of the current generation lacked the sense of responsibility of former generations. This prompted me to develop a system for promoting responsibility.

Using what I had gained from my experiences in teaching at all levels, as well as my counseling experiences and what I had learned as an elementary school principal, middle school administrator, and high school principal, I wrote my first book, “FOSTERING SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY,” published by Phi Delta Kappa.

Some  foundations can be reduced to three principles: (1) People act better when they feel better. (2) People are empowered when given choices. (3) No one can change another person. A person CAN CONTROL another person but CANNOT CHANGE another person. People change themselves.

I also knew that, from my former teaching experiences that I had to teach procedures for everything that I wanted my students to do well. Well aware that teaching procedures is proactive and absolutely necessary for good classroom management, I thought, why not use a  PROactive approach—rather than a REactive approach?  Why wait until a student misbehaves and then REACT? in a negative way? Why not use Stephen Covey’s first habit of highly effective people? Be PROACTIVE; TEACH first.

This was the beginning of the “RAISE RESPONSIBILITY SYSTEM” now used in schools across the country and now available in books free of charge to any school in the U.S. that wants to use the approach. See Discipline Without Stress, Inc.  I did not set out to develop a discipline program. I set out to raise the level of social and individual responsibility of my students.

Here is what I discovered: With today’s youth, if you teach toward obedience, you will face resistance, rebellion, and defiance—more often than you care to. However, if you aim at and foster RESPONSIBILITY, you will get obedience as a natural by-product.

After developing a simple program, my discipline problems disappeared, my stress was reduced, and I truly regained the joy of classroom teaching. All I did was (1) TEACH four levels of social development, (2) hone my skills of asking reflective questions (already set up because the levels are a benchmark for reflection), and (3) with some students learn how to use authority without being punitive.

Suggestion: Reflect on the best path for your students—towards obedience or towards responsibility. I have learned that the former does not naturally transfer to the latter.