Balancing Freedom & Responsibility: Why Selfish Behaviour Cannot Be Tolerated?

Freedom is a fundamental aspect of human existence, cherished and fought for throughout history. However, with freedom comes responsibility. It’s often said that these two concepts are two sides of the same coin, inseparable and interconnected. While personal freedom allows individuals to pursue their desires and aspirations, it must be exercised with caution and consideration for the collective well-being. We examine this delicate balance between personal freedom and collective responsibility, particularly in the context of a classroom setting where selfish behaviour can disrupt the learning environment for others. This is so prevalent in our high schools that it is pervasive, and our teachers are buckling under it.

Personal freedom refers to the liberty individuals have to make choices and act upon them without undue interference from others or the government. It encompasses various aspects of life, including freedom of speech, expression, religion, and association. Personal freedom is essential for self-expression, creativity, and individuality, allowing people to pursue their passions and live according to their values.

So, why is collective responsibility Important? Collective responsibility emphasises the idea that individuals are accountable not only for their actions but also for the well-being of the community as a whole. It recognises the interconnectedness of society and the impact of individual behaviour on others. In a classroom setting, collective responsibility entails respecting the rights and needs of classmates and contributing to a positive learning environment conducive to everyone’s growth and development.

So, what’s the problem with selfish behaviour: it undermines the principles of collective responsibility by prioritising personal desires over the common good. Take, for example, a learner who continuously disrupts and misbehaves in class, disregarding the impact of their actions on their peers and the learning process. Such behaviour not only hampers their academic progress but also disrupts the educational experience for others, depriving them of the opportunity to learn and succeed.

Balancing personal freedom with collective responsibility requires individuals to consider the consequences of their actions on others and make choices that promote the greater good. In the classroom, this entails adhering to rules and guidelines established for the benefit of all, respecting the rights and boundaries of fellow students, and actively contributing to a positive and inclusive learning environment. It involves recognising that true freedom is not the absence of constraints but the ability to act in harmony with others while pursuing one’s goals.

So, we must exercise personal freedom responsibly, with consideration for others’ rights and well-being, especially in a classroom setting. Disruptive and selfish behaviour not only undermines the principles of collective responsibility but also hinders the learning environment, making it difficult for both teachers and learners to thrive. Such disruptions can lead to a significant loss of valuable learning time, causing frustration and discouragement for everyone involved.

Moreover, teachers’ ability to deliver quality education is severely compromised when they have to deal with disruptive students. They may have to spend more time managing behavioural issues, leaving less time for actual teaching. As a result, learners are deprived of the opportunity to receive the education they deserve, and teachers are unable to provide the high-quality instruction that they are capable of.

Therefore, it is crucial to find a balance between personal freedom and collective responsibility to create supportive communities where everyone has the opportunity to flourish. By doing so, we can ensure that learners receive the education they need to succeed and teachers have the time and resources to provide it. As said by Peter Marshall, “True freedom is not the freedom to do what we want, but the freedom to do what is right.”

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