Personal Responsibility in Education Name of a Student Name of Establishment Summer 2012


PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY IN EDUCATION Personal Responsibility in Education


In today’s epoch of globalization, scientific revolution and informational overload, the general tempo of life has speeded up significantly, which could not but exert influence on human behavior. Indeed, modern people are more active, ambitious and career oriented than they were some decades ago. Competitiveness has become the main characteristic feature of modern society, whereas the key factor of success in a highly competitive community is the ability to respond or answer for one’s conduct. In other words, if one wants to succeed in today’s competitive society, one should be able to take responsibility for one’s actions. Personal responsibility is perhaps the main character trait directly related to gaining success in everything one does, which is why developing this personal trait is one of the ultimate goals of any educationalist. In this essay, the essence and importance of personal responsibility will be explored, the relationship between personal responsibility and college success will be analyzed, and a preliminary plan to practice personal responsibility in education will be presented. In general terms, personal responsibility can be defined as the readiness to accommodate oneself to socially accepted standards of individual behavior and endeavor to comply with such standards and live in accordance with them. In their research, S. Stockdale et al. (2011) outline the essence of personal responsibility by providing the following definitions of this concept: Assuming ownership by individuals for their thoughts and actions; personal values we attach to making decisions, taking control or accepting responsibility for our beliefs and actions; individuals’ positive potential for growth (Broekett and Hiemstra as quoted by Stockdale et al.); demonstrating by individuals of high level of self-actualization (Maslow qtd. in Stockdale et al.). Besides, S. Stockdale et al. (2011) suggest that personal responsibility in education can be seen as self-direction, i.e. “[A] process of learning in which people take primary responsibility or initiative in the learning experience and a personal

PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY IN EDUCATION attribute of the learner” (“Development of PRO”). I believe that personal responsibility or absence of it can affect a wide range of aspects in everyone’s life. Firstly, this personal trait is of paramount importance for pursuing one’s career. It is a well-known fact that any employer would prefer a responsible worker to others, since responsibility means staying focused and not letting one’s personal life affect work, i.e. higher level of devotion to work. One will not be able to retain employment in case of neglecting one’s supervisors’ demands and instructions, since no worker, let alone the one in a position of authority, will tolerate his/her subordinate’s irresponsibility and complacency. In specific cases, personal irresponsibility may lead to disastrous consequences. Imagine yourself pursuing military career and being sent to war. No matter, whether you are a common soldier or Major


General, you are still to carry out orders put out to you, i.e. you should be responsible. If you do not do this, chaos will begin. As a result of this, you and those who are in your regiment can be killed. In this case, personal irresponsibility can cost you your life and the lives of others. It is also important to be responsible in any interpersonal relationships, whether personal or professional, since no partner would tolerate one’s inability to take control over one’s actions, because such person cannot be relied upon. Personal responsibility is also associated with fulfilling family obligations, maintaining a family life, etc. In other words, there is no aspect of life where personal responsibility would be irrelevant. As it has been mentioned above, personal responsibility is of paramount importance in the process of one’s education. Thus, T. Davis and H. Murrell admit that student’s responsibility is the key to personal development and learning (“Turning teaching into learning”). Firstly, college success is directly proportional to the efforts that students put into their studies and the degree of their involvement with the process of education. Secondly, personal irresponsibility results in diminishing of collective academic life drawing a class in which such irresponsible student studies to the lowest common denominator, which, in its

PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY IN EDUCATION turn, is associated with divisive and stagnant atmosphere in a classroom in particular and a college in general. Thirdly, sufficient self-control and academic initiative are the habits of responsible civic and personal life that are nurtured and refined throughout college years,


whereas the lack or absence of such can result in students’ social maladjustment in the future (T. Davis and H. Murrell). Personal responsibility in education is closely connected with following teacher’s instructions as well. Teachers are students’ supervisors and role models at the same time, and if they demand a certain task to be performed, students have to stick to it; otherwise, they run the risk of failing in future academic studies, which will consequently deprive them of certain possibilities to gain success in their future professional and social lives. It should be mentioned, however, that mere following of instructions is not enough. The point is that everything one has to do must be done in time, because in the event of being late, one’s efforts turn to be in vain. Therefore, personal responsibility depends upon time management as well, since only those who know how to manage their time can be considered to be responsible persons. Moreover, if students display high level of responsibility in the process of their studying, they are able to stay focused while performing a certain task or activity, whereas such consistent behavior is synonymous to showing priority for education, which is the key to maintaining good grades, i.e. gaining educational success. However, understanding theoretical background of the essence of this concept is not enough to become responsible oneself and to teach others how to be responsible. Therefore, certain implications for educators as regards practicing personal responsibility in education should be presented. Wisconsin Education Association Council (2012) outlines the following steps to be taken for nurturing and strengthening students’ personal responsibility: Creating positive attitude toward learning; celebrating student’s every success; establishing high expectations for students; parental supervision of students’ performance of their homework; limiting employment during college years; helping students pursue interesting developmental

PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY IN EDUCATION activities after their studies, etc. (“Personal responsibility”). It should be added that practicing personal responsibility also presupposes practicing efficient time management, allocating specific time daily to work on home assignment, developing habit of performing learning activity in a timely and accurate manner, learning to set clear and attainable goals,


and learning to overcome failures and mistakes not by repeating them, but drawing the moral from them instead. Therefore, not only is personal responsibility one of the most positive character traits, but it is also a determinant of success in education. Thus, personal responsibility is associated with personal development, learning initiative, building of social competence and strengthening of motivational base of an individual. Needless to say, practicing personal responsibility in college, which presupposes efficient time management, establishing high expectations, and creating positive attitude toward learning, is the key to students’ success in their studies and is of paramount importance for any educator.

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PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY IN EDUCATION Davis, T.M. & Murrell, P.H. Turning teaching into learning: The role of student responsibility in the collegiate experience. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report series, 22(8). Retrieved from


“Personal responsibility, parental involvement and success in school” (2012). Research briefs in Wisconsin Education Association Council (# 14). Retrieved from Stockdale, S. L. & Brockett, R. G. (2011, May). Development of PRO_SDLS: A measure of self direction in learning based on the personal responsibility orientation model. Adult Education Quarterly, 61(2), 161-180. Retrieved from 3&hid=105&sid=400df547-d7b4-4a07-a1d5-a44ead8a9a3a@sessionmgr114

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