Personal Responsibilty

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SWBAT evaluate how Victor deals with his sense of personal responsibility.

Big Idea

How does one define personal responsibility?


A major theme in Frankenstein is personal responsibility; does Victor Frankenstein bare any responsibility to the monster he created? What about the monster's victims? When a conflict arises who bares the responsibility?

We look at a poem by Native American author Jennifer Greene who comments on the attitudes of white and Native Americans living in close proximity to their stereotypes, and to the generational conflict it creates. 

Then we examine several generic situations to determine the responsible party in each scenario.  

Students are asked to write reflections at each point to consider the role of responsibility in conflict and how their own sense of responsibility determines their actions. 


For Those Who Hate

20 minutes

Class begins with a discussion about the underlying theme in Frankenstein of personal responsibility, not only in our family relationships but in broader arenas like scientific research.  

I pass out the poem by Jennifer Greene titled, "For Those Who Hate".  We listen to her read the poem on Montana's Public Instruction website.

Then I have students perform a choral reading of the poem, with different students taking different lines.

We read the poem twice this way.

The students pick up on several subtexts in the poem. They immediately understand that this a poem about the personal responsibility of one generation to the next. 

One of the students picks up on the sarcasm in the poem and the effect that it has on the meaning. We agreed that the poem was a type of satire, and that she is trying to make a point about those who are bigoted and prejudiced.   One of the students reacts very negatively to the poem, she felt tone of the poem contradicted the ideas the poem suggested.

We discuss the cyclic nature that perpetuates hate and the ways different cultures have overcome their hatred. 

Timed Write

5 minutes

I have students take out a piece of paper and write about a time when they feel like they were wronged by another person and they responded in a way that made things worse. I asked them to reflect on what they could have done instead. 


5 minutes

Next I ask students what the writing prompt has to do with personal responsibility. One of the students responds that it has to do with our responsibility to the way we responded to the situation.

Evaluate These Situations

15 minutes

Next I have students get into groups of three and I give them a handout with different scenarios on it. They are instructed to evaluate the different scenarios and determine the responsibility of each party. I ask them to think about the scenarios in terms of legal responsibilities and moral/ethical considerations.  "Does the law look at responsibility and liability differently than private interactions between friends and people in a community, or even family? Does the level of personal responsibility change when dealing with friends and family members?"

I give the students about fifteen minutes to discuss the three different scenarios. I circulate around the room listening to discussions and providing input. 


5 minutes

Finally I have students write a reflection on a time when they felt a sense of personal responsibility for a conflict happening in their lives.   Rather than focus on the outcome like they did in the previous writing, I ask them to focus on the conflict itself and their sense of responsibility in that conflict.