What does it mean to you? More importantly, what does it mean to the kids in our schools? I can remember when I was little it was something that was demanded of children. And I do mean that in the very best way.
My mother is justifiably proud of being able to say “I was never the mother who took the broken cookie.” It was one of many small ways that I was taught to earn what I wanted, and that I should care as much about giving my hardworking mother the whole cookie as I wanted it for myself. However controversial it may be for a graduation speech, I knew that while I was special to my family and should strive to do the things that made me proud to be myself, I was not special in the grand scheme of things. That is, I was not ENTITLED to more than the person next to me. And my parents were on the front line of those who held me up and held me accountable.
I believe that this experience actively shapes how I see the world, and how I have learned to take pride in myself. I think this is why I was so blow away by the recent event near Albany. The actions taken by the students were appalling. But the part of the whole story that stops me in my tracks is the reaction of the parents and students to the man who offered them a learning experience rather than a lawsuit. It frightens me that it has become “good parenting” to allow your child to refuse responsibility for their actions. And it goes some ways to explaining some of the struggles schools are having to make their communities a safe place. How can we begin to discuss bullying when students honestly don’t know what it means to be accountable for their actions?
I am thrilled to be working in a community that views the parent piece as vital. There are book clubs and education events aimed at “creating and cultivating a positive and healthy social climate.” Among the many other things I have learned during my practicums and internship so far, this is the one piece that I feel strongly about taking with me wherever I go: community enrichment begins at home.