We had a bit of a tangential discussion in class yesterday centering on the question “Who are today’s heroes?”
The kids did not think athletes were role models. Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Shawne Merriman, Floyd Landis, Shawn Kemp, Tim Donaghy, the 2007 Boston Marathon, NASCAR fines for cheating are up, Gary Player said golfers are doping, and horse racing is again seeing illegal substances used. Even tennis isn’t immune:
“the ATP is investigating suspicious gambling activity around Nikolay Davydenko’s Aug. 2 match with Martin Vasallo Arguello after an online British gambling company received 10 times the normal wagers on the match.”
My students also said they can’t look up to corporations or politicians. They named Enron, Balco, the partisan firings of lawyers, the banking failures, Abu Ghraib, Valerie Plame, Ted Stevens, Jack Abramoff, Monica Lewinsky, and Halliburton. The kids saw the leaders of the country and its financial institutions as no better than anyone else.
Sadly, numerous students said their parents aren’t the role models they hoped for growing up either. My students were pretty open discussing how their parents over-drink, break (what they consider minor) laws, cheat on taxes, have affairs, and can’t maintain marriages.
After listening to them list all the reasons why these people could not be role models, they were hard-pressed to choose another group to whom they could look for guidance. The only groups the kids felt really comfortable mentioning as role models were local church leaders (even then with some reservations) and teachers (with some concerns here too).
Ultimately, the students decided they had to look to individuals to be role models; groups had too many variables and outliers.
If you had to pick a group to be role models for students, who would the group be? Is it possible to look to a group?
It’s amazing what kinds of discussions can come out of The Tragedy of Julius Caesar.
Update (3/1): Check out this article about the impact a role model can have.