Who is your role model? A very routine question asked by teachers, elders from children. The answer generally includes names of some prominent leaders from history or big celebrities
Finding a Role Model……
Children are expected to learn from the life and struggles of great men and women and model their lives accordingly. Short stories and even biographies are included in the syllabus to encourage children to learn important life lessons. But then why so few children actually base their life on that of a known personality?
The answer is not difficult to find. Our entire concept of selecting role models is flawed. We all know Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King or APJ Abdul Kalam were all great people who rose from the Mother earth and reached the pinnacle. It is not easy for the present generation to relate to and understand the struggles. Books and biographies are available but most at times are boring or fail to re-create the situations in a way a normal mind can relate to.
There is a famous saying in defence forces ‘One look on ground is worth more than thousand reports’. Similarly, it is easier for a normal human mind to comprehend things which happen live in front from it than from the books. And books at times may be manipulated with an eye on sales.
Find them in the neighbourhood…..
Rather than searching role models in the books it is better to look for one in the neighbourhood. Every men or women has a story to tell. There are inspirational stories in every second home. I came across this middle age lady in an online discussion. Happily married, two kids, leading a comfortable life with no apparent cause for worry. Few days later the husband dies in a shocking freak accident.
What does she do as a young widow with two kids to support? Yes, she was in a state of shock for few days before she started picking up the pieces of her life. She did not look for a shoulder to cry or sought refuge in re-marriage (fighting the pressure to re-marry is not easy for a young widow).
Instead, she preferred to fall back on her education, started an advocacy firm from scratch. She faced all odds with a strong head and three years down the line she is firmly in the saddle, financially sound and even supporting her siblings. The sleepless nights she spent going through every detail of her project has paid off. What made the difference in her life was the education and the never say die attitude.
Such inspirational stories galore in our society. We fail to pick them up due to our obsession with celebrities. Yes, teach the kids the life stories of historical leaders but also include life stories from neighbourhood which they can comprehend and follow easily. The role of parents is of prime importance in this regard. They are the ones who have to introduce the kids to these neighbourhood role models.
Children who learn through live role models stand firm and always leave footprints behind for others to follow.