At worst what we do to stop pupils from doing wrong things only escalates their bad behavior. Successful intervention, however, can enhance the development of their sense of responsibility.

 

Help the pupil realize what the experience of taking responsibility has taught him and encourage him to find a way in which to help the community of class or school to benefit from his experience.


Teacher: What have you learned from all this?
Pupil: Eh?
Teacher: You did wrong but you can be proud of the way in which you have taken responsibility for your action. If one day you have kids of your own and one of them does something similar, how do you intend to deal with it?
Pupil: I will make it perfectly clear to them that one is not supposed to do things like that but I won't shout at them. Kids have the right to do mistakes. One can learn from mistakes, you know.
Teacher: Sounds good. I agree with you. Perhaps you would sometime like to advice some younger kids who do similar things than you did?
Pupil: Suits me fine, if you trust me to do it.

The ultimate goal of the steps of responsibility is the development of sense of responsibility in situations where the milk is spilled and a pupil has already done something wrong. The fact that the pupil takes all the steps of responsibility described up until now, (admits to what he has done, demonstrates that he understands the consequences of his actions, apologizes, repairs in some way the damage he has caused and promises not to do the same kind of things again) does, however, not guarantee that there will be a strengthening of the pupil's sense of responsibility. The pupil can, after all, comply only superficially and regard all of it as simply an inescapable obligation.

One can talk about sense of responsibility only when the pupil sincerely thinks that he has done something wrong and means it when he declares that he will not do anything similar again. But true sense of responsibility also includes caring for others, willingness to contribute to preventing also others from doing similar thing.

A sign of true change in attitude is when the pupil is willing to contribute to the work that is being done in the school to cut down on the incidence of similar kinds of wrongdoings. For this reason the pupil should be offered an opportunity to play some part in this work. This way his wrongdoing and his his taking responsibility becomes capital that can be of benefit not only himself but also to other pupils, and ultimately to the whole the school.

When news of the fact that the pupil has found a way to contribute to the prevention of similar acts come to the attention of people, there is a good chance that the pupil's reputation will become better and people will begin to trust him again.

Example
A teenage boy had called his teacher "fucking homo." Because of his verbal abuse a meeting was summoned. Present in this meeting were the headmaster, the pupil himself, the teacher, and both of the teenagers parents. When what had happened was discussed, it became evident to everyone that what the boy was well aware of the fact that he had done wrong and that he was genuinely sorry for the frogs that had come out of his mouth. He stated clearly that if there was any way he could make up for what he had done he would not hesitate to do it. After a relatively short discussion the headmaster told the boy: "If you mean what you say, so perhaps you would want to contribute in some way to the work that is being done in our school to get rid of the common use of foul language. The boy said he'd be willing to do "something". A month or so later he wrote an essay on his English lessons which was related to the subject. It was a story about a computer that had become fond of four letter words and the difficulties of reprogramming the computer into communicating respectfully. The essay was so funny that it was chosen to be published in the annually published journal of the school. It provoked many a conversations not only among parents and teachers but pupils as well.

If you haven't read the full-length example already
you might want to do it now.

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