Every Tuesday I read to 3 and 4 year olds at the day care center across the street from my school. As I picked up one of my enthusiastic charges I noticed the phrase on his t-shirt, "Don't Get Caught!"
"Don't Get Caught?" I realized he had no idea what it said, so I left it alone. However, as we sat down to read, the phrase on his shirt picked at me. Negative connotations were the only meaning I could derive from that statement. Maybe I was projecting. Maybe it meant "Don't get caught slacking" or "Don't get caught....", you fill in the rest, I can't think of anything positive right now.
But it reminded me of what our society has become. A place where you can do whatever you want, as long as you "don't get caught". And, if you do get caught, do not, under any circumstances, take responsibility for your actions!
"He was doing it too!" Or the infamous, "No, I didn't". (Even if I watched them do it)
The parent who did not return a form, "She didn't give it to me", knowing it was tossed or misplaced.
The teachers who helped their students cheat on state tests. "My principal told me to cheat!" (I know many think it was justified, I can't)
"Ed reformers" who get caught in the web of lies they have created, and then yell , "Teacher Accountability!"
I believe I do a pretty good job of instilling responsibility in my students. I lead by example. If I do something wrong, I own up to it. I provide plenty of examples of what students should do when "caught". I make sure they understand that lying (and that's what it is), is not an option.
By the middle of the year, most of my kids seem to catch on. When they "get caught", they stop mid sentence in their automatic absolution of their behavior. Better yet, they own up right away, and take the proper action.
"Don't Get Caught?" Hopefully, that 4 year old's shirt had a positive connotation. Perhaps someone explained to him that they didn't want him to get caught__________________________. You fill in the blank.:)