Responsibility, a time- traveling pursuit

January 31, 2019

I recently had the pleasure to sit with two former educators for a while and discuss some matters pertaining to CPS.  It was a good discussion, each of us gaining

Jim Walter Superintendent Clare Schools

Jim Walter Superintendent Clare Schools

some understanding from the others.  At the conclusion of the meeting, I was presented with a 1953 Clare Sentinel “School Corner” letter written by then Superintendent of Schools Thomas Campbell.  What a treat!

Imagine having some of your own values, and those of your school system, validated by folks from over 6 decades ago.  Superintendent Campbell spent his column describing the virtues of responsibility and democracy, two themes that still run deep in Clare Public Schools.  Paraphrasing:

It should be obvious they many teachers and parents are concerned with young people growing up to be responsible individuals.  Happy, well-adjusted people are well balanced with a sense of responsibility toward themselves and toward others.  Studies showed then, and confirm now, that irresponsible folks do not fit in well with our democratic way of life because they are unwilling to carry their share of the load, they sometimes do not respect the rights of others, and they can be concerned with only their own desires and interests.

Young people aren’t born with responsibility, they have to learn it along with cooperation, consideration for others, good manners – just as they learn to read and walk.  And responsibility isn’t developed alone, accidentally or suddenly…it is learned over time and experience and with guidance.

Teachers inherently understand the need for our young people to become responsible.  While there are periods of sitting and listening, many of our classes reflect environments where students are expected to express their views, to think and plan and act together.  Kids learn quickly that they have a major role in responsibility for what goes on in the classroom.  Completing work, asking questions, and learning from feedback are all a part of responsible learning.

Related to schools – sports, activities, and jobs also help young people learn responsibility.  Participating on a team, assuming a leadership role, and being responsible for chores or to others are all pivotal learning activities.  Kids learn they are responsible for their efforts, their actions, and even their own shortcomings.

Of utmost importance is how teachers and parents work together to get to the root of problems, eliminate causes, and continue developing responsibility together.  Parents and schools have to remember that we are each working toward the same goal, with the best interest of the child at heart.

Thank you Superintendent Campbell for your wisdom for Clare then, and for a lasting message.  Following his advice from decades ago will only serve to continue to make Clare a great place to live and learn!

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