"To Act for Themselves and not to be Acted Upon"
Philosophers have long pondered whether free will actually exists or is just an illusion. After considering the question, the great psychologist and philosopher, William James, came up with a deceptively simple (and somewhat humorous) solution. He wrote: “I will assume for the present—until next year—that [free will] is no illusion. My first act of free will shall be to believe in free will.” This presentation will explore reasons why students’ increasing capacity for free will is crucial to their eventual transition to productive adulthood, and how making the best use of this capacity depends on a single but powerful choice: Choosing to believe that they can act and not simply be acted upon. Together, participants will explore some of the ways this choice is denied, ignored, or procrastinated, and how parents and students can use choice and action to open some of the most important doors students will face as they approach adulthood.
Michael J. Richardson, Ph.D. worked for several years with youth and families who were experiencing unusual difficulties in educational, treatment, and in-home settings. His research centers on improving and understanding behavior, social and emotional well-being, and moral awareness, particularly during adolescence. He currently teaches adolescent development, classroom management, and theories of teaching and learning at Brigham Young University.