Prompts to “The Courage to Teach Social Responsibility”

“1. In a few sentences, what (according to the text) is “social responsibility” and why does it take courage to teach social responsibility?”

Social responsibility is both individual and collective action towards making the world a better place. It takes courage to teach social responsibility because it is difficult and has many obstacles. Some of those obstacles are dealing with politics and controversy, maybe a politically hostile environment, and may require changing  teaching methods and school and classroom culture.

“2.In a few sentences… of the “four basic processes that nurture social responsibility”(see page 192), which process(es) do you believe to be most important in forming socially responsible citizens? Explain.”

I think the first one, having a caring environment with reason, democratic norms, efficacy, and communal spirit is the most important in forming socially responsible citizens. I think, for the most part, humans are easily able to be emphatic towards other groups with education and understanding. It is not our lack of empathy that holds us back at being socially responsible citizens, but rather our indifference. There is nothing I can do so why bother? Or it does not affect me, so why bother? In his book, “Making Democracy Work,” Robert Putnam says that the reason people could be less civic minded is because they do not trust one another. Trust comes from people joining associations, unions, clubs, and other organizations. It is doing activities consistently that allow you to get to know your community. It is the same in the classroom. In other classrooms at MSU, I am afraid to speak, afraid to be judged. In our classroom, we have such a strong community that I am not afraid to make mistakes, say the wrong thing, and know any criticism from my peers and superiors comes from the motivation to see me succeed and not just to put me down. In short, I have trust in my classmates and teachers. This fosters greater learning because we then are not afraid to open up and ask questions. Also, having a greater community helps get away with indifference. Kind of hard to be indifferent at a policy that, although may not affect me, may affect my friend. This, obviously, is not the whole story, but I think it plays a strong enough part to do some good if we address it.


“3. In 2-3 few paragraphs… how do different people (who have different values and fundamental understandings of justice, truth, & etc.) disagree about what values to promote and pursue? What do you think about pursuing a common vision when there isn’t a consensus?”

A classic example of people having different values and fundamental understandings of justice and truth occurred in the National Association for Colored Women (NACW). Obviously, the intersectionality of race and sex, made NACW disagree on things with the NAACP, but even within the organization you had differences of values. The NACW was run by middle class black women teaching respectability politics to working class black women who didn’t have the financial means to implement respectability politics in their lives. Also, there was a disagreement on whether respectability politics was justified or was it just another form of victim blaming that put responsibility of not having rights on the oppressed rather than the oppressor.

I think the best way to pursue a common vision when there isn’t a consensus is through coalitions. People should have their own factions if they are marginalized from the larger club, such as the NAACP and NACW, but get together for political action whether it is testing cases, strikes, boycotts, protests, marches, and etc.

“4. In 3-4 paragraphs… offer your own stance: what does it mean to be ethical/moral in a descriptive and normative sense? How have you come to that conclusion/what is that based on?”

In a descriptive sense, you are a considered a good person if those who know you describe you as so. This really holds true no matter where you go. Reputation has so much weight that people will defend people who did something evil, such as Brock Turner, because the person they know is a good person. However, we forget, under the right circumstances, how good people can directly or indirectly do great evil. This brings me to normative sense of what is means to be a good person.

I think you can count yourself as a “good” person if you are always trying to do less harm in the world and be better. The moment you stop holding yourself accountable is the moment you stop being good. This is from my experiences and one of the rules I live by. This rule allows a lot of leeway because you will not always know what is good or wrong necessarily and there will be some sins that you may choose to make and live with such as the act of killing in self-defense. I also think it is imperative that people study evil, know its trap falls, and especially be aware of the evil lying within! I am sick of hearing people say “I would never be able to do that…” as if they are incapable of great evil, but the sad news is that everyone is capable of such great evil under the right circumstance. Knowing one’s capabilities and pit falls will make it much more likely that that person can stand up to evil and not fall in.

A lot of these conclusions are based on experience and seeing the world. Being good is not easy. It takes courage, work, the right motivations, and a very strict sense of accountability. As long as you are working on and doing those four things, then I think you can consider yourself good, despite what evil you may have done in the past.

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