Teenagers need Role Models – No

Rule with an iron fist in the class room 9am-3.30pm but from the home bell teens are in their parents hands, for good or ill,moulded by parental influence.   Of course there is always a few exceptions where you find a teenage tearaway in a loving, educated home, but in the whole “dole” parents seem to breed “dole” offspring, educated parents pass on the value of education and business orientated parents pass on the entrepreneurial. Freud’s “superego”  though by today’s scientific standards considered inaccurate, is still a starting point for child development theory. The superego is the internalised values and rules absorbed by the child/teenager from their parents.

Teenagers are in desperate need of role models other than Justin Bieber .They need roles models with honourable substance to emulate and be like.  If in the rare case a teacher can be that role model then well and good,  but in all likelyhood it starts at home. Parents need to be that role model and accept full responsibility for the image they portray onto their children.

What kind of role model do teacher’s portray?  Stimulating, exciting, challenging?  Despite educational reform, some UK schools were criticised in the latest Ofsted inspection 2010 for uncreative lesson plans.  Sir Ken Robinson in his talk from the 2006 TED conference  said that children are being educated out of their creativity.

“What we do know is that If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.And by the time they get to be adults, most kids have lost that capacity. They have become frightened of being wrong. And we run our companies this [way], by the way, we stigmatize mistakes.And we’re now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst things you can make. And the result is that we are educating people out of their creative capacities.”

This fallacy becomes ridiculous in situations where children and teenagers are downgraded for creatively thinking out their answer rather than stating the answers already provided by the teacher.  Good grades are given to those who follow the game plan, regurgitating by rote. The same message is largely translated into the corporate world with middle sector corporate types putting down creativity to patiently plug away at the boss and ever so slowly crawl up the work ladder.

Would any 14-16 year olds raise their hand to devoting 20 years working for Aviva? No, they settle. They follow the economic drift, the economic trend in an uncreative fashion. School has shown them how to copy out of textbooks and absorb state approved points about a given subject. Discipline is about conformity to given values and rules.

What kind of human beings are we moulding if we only require them to follow instructions?  Life skills such as creativity, curiosity, resourcefulness that can grant employment mobility and independence are barely engaged by the modern education system. Pupils are told to be quiet and follow instructions, but not the benefits if any, reaped from following those instructions.

So no, discipline won’t correct the “super-ego” established at home nor win genuine respect from rebellious teens. They need inspiration and enpowerment from a prominent creative role model in their life. Hopefully there are teachers up to the job out there.