The Race

I find it curious that we so readily associate responsibility with time.

It’s a simple equation – commit a serious crime and get a longer sentence.  We often replicate that approach in schools where, depending on the seriousness of the offence, students receive longer suspensions or more detentions.

And that’s all fine if you’re game is retribution.  But, if it’s genuinely responsibility, what approach would we adopt then?

A few schools we work with have begun discussing responsibility as a race.  How quickly can we get from a student screwing up to a student taking responsibility by cleaning up their own mess?

These schools are reporting that students are:

  • less likely to lie.
  • more likely to respond creatively.
  • less likely to reoffend (perhaps having spent less time plotting revenge).
  • spending more time in a positive frame of mind at school.

They are also reporting that teachers are:

  • not wasting hours investigating crimes and supervising students “doing time”.
  • feeling more positive about being positioned to thank and congratulate students who take responsibility, rather than feeling awful about having to berate students about their failings.

And they’re getting faster at it.  Some teachers are reporting that they can even complete an entire restorative process while they walk from yard duty to the classroom door, now that the students understand and expect the process.

Why is it that we’re so convinced that students must spend lengthy periods of time excluded and feeling awful?

Instead, imagine what might be achieved by treating the act of doing wrong as a starter’s pistol and the events that follow as being the fastest steps possible to the finishing line of personal accountability.

Imagine that.

Keep fighting that good fight,

PS. We now have only TWO places left in The Inner Circle for School Leaders looking for high level mentoring in implementing Restorative Practices across all of 2022.  Have a look around and sign up from this webpage.


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