Thursday, October 15, 2009

Responsibility: A Key Path to Honor

The final path to Honor, to becoming a selfless servant demonstrating moral courage and commitment, is to work on being responsible to one's self and others. This is a difficult path to stick to for many of our middle schoolers, because it is one they must travel alone.

A definition will help again to provide context for the rest of the discussion. provides two definitions which are applicable at Calvert:

1. answerable or accountable, as for something within one's power, control, or management (often fol. by to or for)

2. having a capacity for moral decisions and therefore accountable; capable of rational thought or action

We ask that students be accountable for their actions, and use their capacity for moral decision to work to keep their friends on the path of responsibility. The former is difficult because it can be easier to cast blame away from one's self thank take it on themselves, and the latter is even trickier because middle schoolers struggle to stand up to a group.

We don't expect that our students will be perfect on this path. We don't even expect that they will only move forward on this path - there will be some times when it is one step forward, five steps back. But we do expect that our students begin to understand the meaning behind taking responsibility for their actions and each other.

I come back to Coach Wooden and his reflections on life (He turned 99 years old yesterday, by the way...). Two of his reflections sum up responsibility to self and responsibility to others.

Responsibility for One's Self:

You can make mistakes, but you aren't a failure until you start blaming others for those mistakes. When you blame others you are trying to excuse yourself. When you make excuses you can't properly evaluate yourself. Without proper self-evaluation, failure is inevitable.

Responsibility for Others:

Like it or not, we have influence of many different kinds in many different places and conduct ourselves in an appropriate manner. This verse is correct:

More often than we e'er suspect,
The lives of others we do affect.

[People] who don't want the responsibility that comes with [being part of a community] don't have that choice. They are role models whether they like it or not; they cannot simply announce that they intend to shirk their responsibility. They are role models, either good or bad.

So are you. So am I. I believe we have an obligation to make that model a positive one.

As we are role models to our students, so are they to each other. In order to provide a community which our students and families, we must all be accountable for our actions and those around us. Doing this each day takes us farther down the path of responsibility and closer to attaining our goal of being an honorable person.

This is the last description of the five paths to the pillars of the Honor Code. Each has been described as a path. Each path converges on the "roundabout" of honor and cycle back to one's self, each other, and the community at large. Stay tuned for further development on the code and how the paths work with and within each other to develop honor in our students.

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