Home' Independence : Independence Vol 32 No 2 Oct 2007 Contents Here are the first names of eight people
who are remembered for something they
have done, or been, which caused them to
become something of a role model, maybe
even a hero.
These are people who have become
famous and are, or have been, acclaimed.
Why? For their achievements? It could be.
It could be for what they are paid to do,
or for their skills. Examples could be those
in entertainment, or in sport. For their
appearance? Here we consider the models
and movie stars. For their connections?
Royalty and families of celebrities can be
in this category. For being a celebrity?
Students at schools have people they
admire, respect and wish to imitate. This
isn’t anything new, but do we know who
the heroes are for this century?
A role model is someone who creates a
wish among admirers for them to have
what the model has, or to be what the model is.
If a person has a role model, there are particular
characteristics of that model which the person
wishes to have. This is different from a person
being a fan of say, John Farnham, as although we
may never be able to sing as John does, we may
really enjoy his singing. This may be seen as a form
of ‘respect’,‘admiration’ or even ‘envy’.
Fifty years ago, models for teenagers probably came
from a limited group – family, church, clubs and
friends in a familiar environment who shared com-
mon stories. Little influence came from outside those
groups. Perhaps there were connections to high
achievers in the sporting, political and entertain-
ment arenas (for example Margaret Court, Bob
Menzies, Frank Sinatra). There was often an air of
‘authorised approval’ that went with these models.
These were probably cross-generational models, in
that teenagers and adults shared models. Undoubt-
edly that hasn’t been the case for a while. (It is an
interesting exercise to sit with a group of adults
and ask ‘Who was your hero when you were a teen-
ager?’. Invariably the responses bring more than
the question asked). However, the development of
technology has enabled people to access so much
about so many, and teenagers have access to so
much of this.
This year, Paris Hilton has again attracted atten-
tion on her status as a teenage role model. In The
Sunday Age (10 June 2007, page 15), Waleed Aly
writes, ‘Paris is truly famous for being famous’.
Later, it is suggested that ‘Perhaps our capacity to
find interest in even the most mind-numbing cele-
brity stories reflects a more profound stagnation
in us; that we are increasingly not a people who
do, but rather a people who watch’.
Some people in our part of the world took our local
paper to task for the coverage Paris Hilton received.
Editor Jason Purdie wrote (The Advocate, 9 June
2007, page 30), ‘she is a “role model” for hund-
reds of Coastal girls whether we like it or not. That,
for mine, makes this a topic worthy of discussion’.
So is it celebrity status that makes a person the role
model? And if it is, is it because the media or ad-
vertising put these people in front of us? One
would hope that initial interest would be enhanced
by some appreciation of the gifts of the model.
To find out who are the heroes and role models of
our students, perhaps we need to begin
by asking them. A group of 17 year old
students when asked, ‘Who is your hero?’
• Michael Jordan
• Emma Watson
• Dad (most of the time)
• Andrew McLeod
As educators we need to know who is
important in the lives of our students.
A significant part of ‘educating for life’
(formally and informally) is to engender
an understanding that while it is alright
to have a ‘media’ role model, the impor-
tant thing is to determine which role model
you will ultimately settle on, and why.
Ideally each student should themselves
strive to become a role model – to some-
one, somewhere, for something – and, if
nothing else, to be a role model for oneself!
Frank Rice is Principal and Dr Mike Doyle
is Board Chair of St Brendan-Shaw College,
Frank Rice and
Dr Mike Doyle
Heroes and role models
Ideally each student should
themselves strive to become
a role model.
Non Sequitur© 2007 Wiley Miller. Reprinted by permission of Universal Press Syndicate. All rights reserved.
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