Monday, September 19, 2011

Privilege and Responsibility

Prior to the start of the current college football season, all of the major conferences host media days. In the Big 10, coaches, players, athletic directors, and other individuals associated with member school’s athletic departments gather for a few days in Chicago and meet the press. A few days after that gathering, a video clip started circulating of Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins and a speech that he gave on behalf of the players in the conference. It is out there on YouTube and I would encourage you to take a look. However, there is a part of his speech that I want to focus on, which I have included here.

"It's here in this place of privilege where perhaps danger lies," he said. "I've been taught that human nature is such that the place of privilege most often and most naturally leads to a sense of entitlement -- the notion that I deserve to be treated as special because I'm privileged. The truth is privilege should never lead to entitlement. I've been raised and taught to believe that privilege should lead to responsibility, in fact to greater responsibility."

When one reads about this current generation of teenagers, some often refer to them as “the entitlement generation.” Because of the way that many have been raised with a focus on making sure that they feel special, in turn they expect things because they are “special” and do not acknowledge that in “real life” you have to earn your keep. We see this quite often in the classroom where students believe they just have to show up to get a good grade, or that by simply completing a paper should bring reward, never mind the quality of work. As parents we have cheered the effort rather than the outcome, which I believe is a disservice to our kids. Of course we want them to participate, to try. But many of us have hesitated to push them to perform at a high level because we are afraid of what might happen. So, I believe that many kids have gained a false sense of privilege and do not recognize the responsibility that comes with it. For some, if it doesn’t make them feel good, why should they do it?

I am also concerned about a prevailing attitude that exists with seniors at North Fayette. There is a strong sense of entitlement among that group simply because they are seniors. They have “put in their time” and now it is all about them! It isn’t just this year’s class as actually, I have seen less of it with them than in my two previous years. What I want to see is that they have become leaders and that they make a difference in the lives of others, especially the underclassmen. They need to be the students in the building that teach others about what it means to be a North Fayette Hawk and to help prepare them for the challenges that are ahead of them. Rather than expecting that the spotlight will now shine on them simply because they have completed 12 years of formal education, our seniors need to figure out how they can expand the spotlight to include all of those things that they have done and all of the people they have touched to make NFHS a better place. With privilege comes responsibility!