25. Don't shift responsibility and blame

"...I simply cannot conceive of any circumstance in our own daily lifes when it would be appropriate or advantageous to be rude or boorish.  The powerful combination of self-respect and respect for others should make it almost impossible for us to choose incivility...."  --Dr. Forni



  1. Have a relay race--for example the egg and spoon race.  Divide your group into teams.  One at a time, each member of the team must carry an egg on the end of a spoon from the starting line to the finish line and back, then pass the spoon to the next player.  When all members of your team have made that journey, the team is finished.  The first team to finish wins.  After the race, talk about the resposibility of carrying the egg.  What were you responsible for?  If you dropped the egg or made a mistake what did you do?  What did your teammates do?
  2. Not making excuses jar - Fill a jar with one bean for each minute of class time. Each time a student makes an excuse one bean is removed. Time that is not wasted listening to excuses can be free time for the students at the end of week/month. Previously removed beans can be replaced when students demonstrate responsibility.
  3. Whose responsibility is it? (Source: HCPSS CLC)
AGREE or DISAGREE with the following statements:
Students are responsible for passing and being successful in academic classes.
Teachers are responsible for making sure every student passes their class.
Parents are responsible for making sure their children pass every class.
Distribute copies of the survey to students. After the students complete the survey, group them according to their responses. Each group discuss the following:
1.      Define responsibility.
2.      Who has the major responsibility for ensuring that a student passes or is successful in a class?
3.      What factors would imply that responsibility is not being met?
4.      What actions can students take to ensure success?
5.      What role does a parent play?
6.      What role does a teacher play?


  1. Read the Washington Post, Sunday, March 2, 2008,  article by Dan Zak, "Me, If It's All About You, You're in Trouble. Why a Sense of Entitlement Can Wreak Havoc on Happiness."  

Divide into groups and discuss the following questions:

  1. Do you agree with the author -- are we "entitled brats"?  Why or why not?
  2. How does Dr. Forni's Rule #25 fit with the author's conclusion: "When something goes wrong for others, it's their fault. When something goes wrong for us, it's not ours; it's the fault of external forces."?
  3. How would you answer "What the heck is enough?" Do you think there are generational differences?
  4. What are some everyday things you can do to "count your blessings vs. your burdens"?

Discussion questions:

  1. What does it mean to take responsibility?
  2. If we shift responsibility, how does that prevent us from being civil?