Teaching personal responsibility
Chris Ivey / Academic
his week, I have been inspired by two different speakers from completely different contexts.
12 November 2020
From our Principal Chris Ivey // Teaching personal responsibility
Dear St Andrew’s community
This week, I have been inspired by two different speakers from completely different contexts. The first was our Sports Awards guest this Monday, Peace Proscovia, who currently plays for Sunshine Coast Lightening and is Captain of the Ugandan netball team. She was speaking about the challenges in getting to where she is now. From a poor family, she managed to climb her way out of poverty through sport, to the point where now she is an inspiration to her country and to young men and women around our country. It was one simple line that grabbed my attention. You can’t blame anyone else for your situation, you just have to make the most of the situation you find yourself in.
On the same day, I drove to Brisbane that afternoon for a meeting and listened to an ABC podcast on Conversations, where Peter Stojanovic from Yugoslavia spoke about his journey as a migrant to Australia in the 1960s and his work as both a Church Pastor and now men’s counsellor. Peter has chosen to work with men who are perpetrators of domestic violence. When asked how he works in trying to support and change these men, he also made an insightful comment. His premise was that you can’t get anywhere or make any change to behaviour until each person takes responsibility for themselves and their actions. You can’t blame others and their apparent impact on you, you have to own it yourself.
Two people from very different backgrounds both speaking about this notion of accepting your situation and not blaming others. It’s something we often talk about with our students, this notion of personal responsibility. Of taking the time to reflect on what has occurred, taking ownership for one’s actions and having the maturity to consider things from different view points. One of the sad realities of our current time is that it’s all too easy now to blame others, to not accept the consequences of our own actions or situations. Look no further than the White House!
As parents there is often a temptation to always want things to be right, or acceptable for our children. However, there are times when they need to learn that situations are tough, that sometimes things are unfair or that they need to take some responsibility for their actions, their own part in a situation. Every single one of these situations is a chance to learn. I appreciate that in the busyness of life, we often don’t have the time to walk our children through this important step of moving from the child-like attitude of self-centredness and blame, to the adult concept of taking responsibility, but these qualities can be taught from a young age. As parents, try to instil in your children the notion of not blaming something or someone else, but in taking responsibility for their own situation, their own context, their own actions. We don’t always get it right, but if we are to raise young men and women who can cope with life’s larger challenges at both a personal and professional level, then we need to ensure they get some practice within the safe and supportive context of the family home.