Obedience versus Responsibility

External motivators are used extensively in schools. This includes telling young people what to do, punishing them if they do not, and rewarding them if they do. These approaches teach young people obedience. The shortcomings of obedience appear when teachers and parents are not around to use these external motivators.

The Raise Responsibility System focuses on internal motivation, which builds the vision to act with responsible, autonomous behavior—whether or not anyone else is around.

If America is to continue the civil democracy that has been our heritage, we must do more than just talk about civil democracy and responsibility; we must actively foster it. We can do this in a classroom by providing opportunities for students to take responsibility and by showing them that virtuous behavior is in their own best interest.

By teaching a developmental hierarchy, by using a guidance approach when irresponsibility occurs in the classroom, and—when necessary—by using authority without being punitive, we empower students to manage themselves to be responsible. When we foster responsibility, which in the final analysis requires internal motivation, we foster the type of citizenship that will perpetuate a civil society.