The Courage To Teach Social Responsibility

1. The text defines social responsibility as a two-fold term: one part of it is being personally responsible in treating others how you would like to be treated; the second part is a collective responsibility that deals with working in concert with others in order to better the world. In essence, it means living a life that is ethical personally and globally. It takes courage to teach these skills because it is an abstract concept that comes from one’s sense of humanity and morality instead of one’s understanding of content. Also, there is the threat that ideas of social responsibility can be biased by political or spiritual association. It is a troubling thing for teachers to teach because its trans-discipline and abstract nature make it hard to determine where its role lies in the school setting.

2. I believe that “confrontations with injustice” (192) is the most important because, even though seeing positive behavior modeled by parents or adults is incredibly beneficial, I think it is always more important to see what is wrong than what is right. Seeing injustice first-hand, or seeing the reality of it existing, is an important realization for kids because it confronts them with stark realities that they otherwise would be distant and removed from.

3. Personally, for me, I think that there will always  be unity in regards to our basic humanity. There are a lot of different experiences that exist out there that separate us, but everyone can relate to the “human experience”. Because of that, I think that this underlying human experience can help us form a consensus about what kinds of social responsibility should be taught in schools.

Even if some people have different values about what kinds or groups of people should have varying levels of civil rights, the idea of “rights” or of freedom is still something that the human experience guides us to believe in. It is a “big idea” that can be taught, without going into politically troubling specifics. This is just one example, but it lends into my idea that social responsibility should always be taught in regards to “big ideas” that don’t fall into biased or politically charged realms.

4. For me, being ethical in a descriptive way is a very simple concept – it means being ethical under the conditions and the laws that the society we live in places on us. That may not be the way things should be, but it is the way things are in regards to the global and national laws concerning ethical behavior.

Being ethical in a normative way, however, gets into territory where everyone’s answer will be different. For me, personally, I think that being ethical (in a way where it should be), involves trying to find a sense of self and inner-peace while recognizing the common humanity of others. That sounds a little abstract, but I just mean that I think a key part of being an ethical person involves finding a sense of where you are in the world, and finding a peace within yourself. People often think about morality in regards to how people treat each other (and that is very important, and I will mention it in a second), but I think that finding peace and being able to define yourself in a world where we don’t live forever and where we don’t know so many things is an incredibly ethical and morale thing to do. It shows a willingness to be human, and to take part in the human experience.

In terms of how it relates to dealing with others, I think that a normative sense of morality just means that, as you come to terms with your own humanity, you constantly realize the journey of others. Though differences in values and judgement are good and healthy, there is some large, abstract, and even spiritual, humanity that bonds everyone, and I feel that someone is acting ethically so long as they always keep this in mind. It is basically a complicated way of saying “do to others what you would want done to you”, but I think that it is important to remember that we keep repeating that phrase because of the idea that there is a large humanity that bonds us all.


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