Typically one might consider responsibility to be “towing the line” or doing behaviors that are expected under certain circumstances. In education responsibility is more a compilation of ownership, right action, and congeniality. I think educational experiences come in all shapes and sizes but the deeper they resound the more organized chaos is present.
Students must own the effort they make, which in the end will translate into the knowledge they acquire from the activity exercise during class: what they learned. The easiest way this I’ve accomplished this is using relevant lessons – a lesson that relates what is being taught in class as somehow enhancing student life skills or enhancing the quality of student life outside of school.
While working in a class activity there is certain action that is beneficial to obtaining learning. For example, if Johnny and Anita are chatting it up – not working on the activity tasks: working with other students to investigate, collect information, and make educated guesses, then there isn’t really much hope they are acquiring the necessary info to learn anything. But, just nudging them to focus on the tasks while they continue chatting it up will transform a wasted activity into a contribution to their acquiring necessary info in the goal of completing class work. Digital students can multi-task better than I and many other “adults.”
Every situation has some form of decorum and class decorum is set forth in classroom management polices and activity guidelines. A class without some guidelines is unorganized chaos. The line separating unorganized chaos and organized chaos is very fine, but the difference is organized chaos has the existence of assimilating learning above and beyond survival skills. For example, at the K-12 level, telling students they need to use the supplies and their notes to make a poster explaining XYZ has less learning potential then enhancing those instructions by asking students to include specific information in the poster: title, theme, illustration of cause and effect.
When students are expressing responsibility they are producing a context that naturally builds life skills. In these situations a “ teacher” moves out of the traditional role of being the classroom “expert” dispelling wisdom, instead she/he is a facilitator – a resource for students – that guides the learning taking place.