Re: Responsible People
Tue, 3 Dec 1996 06:08:41 -0500

Hi, all!

What a wonderful thing to come home (after Thanksgiving) to such a great
exchange of ideas !

In a message dated 96-11-30 14:28:08 EST, Dale writes:

<< I have spent hours writing a defense of TEACHING and hours more on
defending RESPONSIBILTY but everytime I get way out on a limb and think
Marge would not be interested in my answer to her question. >>

I have no problem with teachers, nor with teaching, per se. I don't think
teaching requires a defense, just a limitation on its venue. Some of the
most radically influential people in my life have been in the role of
traditionally defined "teachers," in traditionally defined schools. And some
of the most valuable learnings I accumulated were never "taught" at all,
certainly not in an educational institution.

To me, in the sense in which we are speaking here, being responsible and
acting responsibly means accepting that there are sequelae to our actions
(and non-actions), and behaving in ways that acknowledge those sequelae.
"Accountability" is a good word for it but seems to imply a judgement day of
some sort. "Consequences" is a good word but as used in parenting lingo
lately is taken as negative.

If allowing those sequelae to occur, and being there for the person who has
just gotten "sequelled" (both happliy and unhappily), equals teaching
responsibility, then Dale and I are talking apples to apples. As a parent or
other caregiver, particularly of young children, intervention is often
necessary to avoid physical harm, for example, as a sequela. But as we grow
in reason and understanding, intervention (suggestion, coercion, having
things "pointed out" to us) is often not only unnecessary to development but
limiting to our sense of capability. (And as my son might add, a pain in the
[supply your own piece of anatomy].)

If setting up or arranging certain situations to occur in the life of another
person for the purpose "teaching a lesson" in responsible behavior equals
teaching responsibility, then Dale and I are not on the same wavelength. To
me, allowing a person be responsible is empowering, whereas "teaching a
person to be responsible" is not so.