Monday, July 1, 2013

Let's Take A Little Responsibility

I'm a school teacher.  I've taught middle school for nine years.  It has its pros.  It has its cons.  I think every teacher has his or her niche.  Some thrive in elementary, some prefer high-schoolers, I enjoyed the trenches of junior high.

I taught in a smaller, rural district.  I taught with teachers who had spent four decades in the classroom.  I am in awe of them.  They talk about how different it used to be and how much has changed.  

Kids are kids.  No matter the location, no matter the time period, kids are kids.  Sometimes they are going to make poor choices.  Sometimes they are going to put themselves first and not consider others.  Sometimes they might even stretch the truth to stay out of trouble.  I was a kid once.  I did all three.  I have kids.  They've done all three, too.

So, what do teachers do?  We help them make better choices.  We show them what consideration and compassion look like.  We hold them accountable for their words and actions.  Or at least we used to.  I can only speak for my classroom, but over the past decade I've noticed a trend:  An increasing number of students who refuse to take responsibility for their actions.

Teachers have always dealt with excuses.  We get a constant stream of "It's not my fault because..." statements.  Sometimes kids forget their homework.  Sometimes kids push others on the playground.  Sometimes kids rush through work just to get done.  They're kids.  It's expected.  

So if kids are still kids and they still give excuses, what's different?  Parents.  Increasingly, I'm getting more and more parents who are giving the excuses.  Don't get me wrong, it's not every parent.  It's not even most parents.  But each year it's becoming more and more parents.  

To those parents out there raising kids who stand behind their words and actions, I applaude you.  I appreciate the time you've taken to teach personal responsibility, consideration for others and making things right after doing something wrong.  You are raising kids who stand out in a classroom, now more than ever.  Those skills will benefit your child for the rest of their lives.  

My heart hurts for those children who are not being taught those important lessons.  Excuses may be able to get you through elementary, middle school and high school, but what about college and life?  What happens to those children who grow up not accepting responsibility for their words and actions?  I think responsibility will eventually catch up with them.   

For my kids I want to teach them early, so life (police officers, judges, employers, etc.) doesn't have to teach them later.  

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