Monthly Article Archives: December 1999

Fostering Responsibility in Children: “Contributory Activities” and the Role of the School – Part IIRobert Brooks, Ph.D.

In my last column I described one approach for teaching children to be responsible, namely, to ask them to contribute in some manner to their world. I noted that some of the initial ideas for this approach arose from research I conducted a number of years ago when I asked adults to reflect upon one of their fondest memories of school, a memory in which a teacher said or did something that enhanced their self-esteem. The most common answer was when they were asked to help out or contribute in some manner to the school environment. In that column I gave several examples of these memories and would like to offer a few additional ones: “My sixth grade teacher chose me to collect banking money from class members, keep records, and take the money to the bank. It made me feel competent and responsible.” “In the fourth grade I was asked to paint a mural along with three other students to be a permanent part of the school. It was wonderfully positive! Later, as an 8th grade teacher, I had a class paint a mural on a 1783 colonial farm in Connecticut.” “I had an eighth grade teacher who gave

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