Role Models – An Innovative Way of Promoting Life Skills in Children
Young people cannot be influenced by just imparting knowledge to them, and dissemination of information is surely not the only goal of education. Rather, the aim of education is the overall development. This can be done by introducing our students to powerful role models and sensitising them to inspirational stories of different role models with strong moral values. There are some powerful role models in the field of education influencing young minds at a global level:
1) Mother Teresa– She was a Roman Catholic nun and missionary in India who devoted her entire life to the service of humanity.
2) Anne Sullivan– She was an American teacher with hearing and sight impairment, and became the instructor and lifelong companion of famous author Helen Keller.
3) Swami Vivekananda – He was a Hindu Indian monk Hindu philosophies to the West for the first time. His teachings and philosophy stressed different aspects of religion, youth, education, faith, character-building and social issues pertaining to India.
Role models can leave an imprint on the lives of young students. A role model has the ability to shape the perspectives, thoughts and actions of a young person. Role models can help children discover their aspirations. A major outcome of role modelling is character building, which helps to shape the career aspirations and professional development of young students.
In the context of this discussion, I would like to share an example of a student at my school.
In the year 2012, I received a complaint from my staff regarding a student named Rahul, generally believed to be a well-behaved student. With time, he began displaying a sudden change in behaviour. He became disruptive and lost interest in his studies. All restorative measures initiated by his teachers and school counsellors failed to improve his condition. By the time he reached grade IX, he got into an altercation with his parents and teachers. His behaviour also predisposed him to steal money and taking recourse to drugs. Finally, when I intervened and tried to counsel him, I realised that Rahul’s health had deteriorated due to peer pressure. He even attempted suicide, which left us all in shock. This incident compelled us to find a result-oriented solution to prevent Rahul from sliding into depression.
The School Annual Day was around the corner and we were finalising the cast of the play. I decided to select Rahul for a role in the play. When I broached the topic, he was initially surprised and replied that he would like to dance to a song in which Shahrukh Khan featured, since he was his role model. Though presenting Bollywood themes was against the tradition of our school, for Rahul’s sake, I defied protocol and allowed him to perform. Rahul gave a sterling performance, which was praised by everyone and he became a hero overnight. The success on stage drew him out of depression. He gradually changed to his previous good self. Just an opportunity to follow his role model proved to be a miracle in Rahul’s personality transformation.
He approached me to express his sincere gratitude. I asked him to follow the example of his role model, Shahrukh Khan, and be passionate about what he does. This would make him understand the importance of struggle, in whichever field he chooses and the idea hit the nail right. Today, Rahul has set an example for his peers. He completed his graduation and became a successful entrepreneur. Thus, it is important for us to help our children to select role models, who can inspire good moral values in our future generation.
It is not necessary that only celebrities can become role models. We teachers can also be role models. A teacher knows the potential of his or her students, can prompt them to think in novel ways, and can even touch their hearts with his or her actions. Thus, he or she can become an inspirational role model for students. Adolescents get easily distracted and deviated from the right path because they prefer to choose the path which is convenient for them and is adopted by their peers. But the right guidance at the right time can be a real blessing for the students. It is our duty to provide it for them.
I would like to sign off by quoting the words of Mother Teresa,
‘Some people come in your life as blessings,
Some come in your life as lessons.’
Role models play the role of both.