Explain that some people believe that “I am not responsible for anything” and others believe that “I am responsible for the things that I do”. Tell the students that you will be reading a story about a boy who once believed that he was never responsible for anything and that you’ll want to know what they think after you read it.
Read part one of the following story:
Responsibility - Part One: In class one day, the students had just finished a very messy art project. Small pieces of paper had been scattered all over the floor. A number of students were cleaning up while one student, Brian, was playing with a pretend airplane. Once the students gathered up all the papers, they put them in a pile on the table, while they were waiting for the teacher to come around with the garbage can. Brian was busy playing with the airplane and didn’t notice the pile on the table. When he made the airplane come in for a landing, he accidentally knocked down the entire pile of papers. They all fell and scattered on the floor. The teacher passed by and saw the mess. She asked, “What happened? I thought you were cleaning up?” The students looked at Michael, thinking that he would tell the teacher about what happened, but he said nothing. One of the students, Danny, said, “I’ll clean it up” and gathered all the papers back into a pile and put them in the garbage. The other students thanked Danny, and looked at Brian with disappointment on their faces. They wondered if they would be able to trust him again.
Ask students the following questions to promote the understanding that they are responsible for the things that they do.
Do you think that you should do the right thing even though it might mean more work for you?
Do you think what Brian did was an accident?
Do you think that Brian was responsible for the mess even thought it was an accident?
Do you think that Brian should have cleaned up the papers?
Do you think he was lying to the teacher by not telling her that he had spilled the papers?
Do you think that he should have told the truth?
Do you think that Brian’s teacher would have been proud of him?
Do you think that it was fair that Danny had to clean up Brian’s mess?
Do you think that Brian’s friends will have hard a time trusting him?
Explain to the students that Brian learned and began to believe that he is responsible for the things that he does. Read part two of the following story:
RESPONSIBILITY - Part Two: Brian looked at Danny in surprise and asked, “Why did you do that? You could have left the papers there. Someone else would have cleaned it.” Danny answered, “It’s not fair to make someone else take care of a mess you’ve made. I didn’t want to get you in trouble for not lying about dropping the pile. I decided to clean it up myself.” Brian said, “It was an accident, and I didn’t really lie about it – I just didn’t say anything”. Danny said “Even thought it was an accident, you still did it. Not saying anything is the same as lying. I wouldn’t like it very much if people didn’t believe and trust me.” Brian looked over at the other students who were not looking him in the eye and seemed angry. Looking at Danny for support, he took a deep breath, walked over to the group and said, “I’m sorry for knocking down the pile and letting Danny do all the work.” He then walked over to the teacher and said, “Right before you came over to our table, my group had just finished picking up all the papers from the floor. I was playing with an airplane and knocked them all down. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before.” The teacher said, “I’m proud of you for telling me the truth now.” Brian looked back at his group and saw Danny and the rest of the group smiling at him and giving him a thumbs up.