Individual Responsibility or Systemic Problem?

individual responsibility

Often, when a child is struggling, we point to other children who are managing fine as proof that it is possible to be successful. The logical conclusion to this line of thinking is that the problem lies in the individual child, not in the set-up of the situation.

The problem is that just because some kids are able to manage doesn’t mean that there isn’t an systemic problem.

For example, some people can sit in a lecture for hours and manage to stay somewhat focused and get something out of it. But we all would learn better in a situation that included some visuals, discussion time, and activity-based learning. Just because some people have the skills to manage the difficult lecture, doesn’t mean that this is the best learning environment for any of us.

There is a common tendency in our society to focus so much on individual responsibility that we don’t recognize the systemic problems that contribute to the difficulties that people experience. Because one person has overcome the challenges that poverty, abuse, discrimination, mental illness or any other number of difficulties that life can throw at us, some people will believe that means everyone should be able to. The reality is that many problems are not simply people problems, but are actually much bigger than that.

Do we really want to create a world that only works for a select few? Or would it be better to create systems that work for us all?


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