Walking into the classroom, a paper airplane flies from the back row towards the front. Upon asking the student to pick it up, I get the normal teenage response: I didn’t throw it. Although I know this is the typical middle school student response, outright denial of any wrong doing, it angers me. After 15 years of teaching in a middle school, I should be used to it. Where do adolescents learn this behavior?
Then it dawned on me. Students see adults out right lie about their behavior every day. Lies permeate our lives. Observant children learn to lie about their behavior by following the adult models found all around them. Our youth look to model themselves after celebrities/characters they observe on TV and social media. Poor behavior is also abundant in many of the popular video games our children are playing. Adults are behaving poor all over the world for our students to see.
Children here in Michigan can look no further than Lansing to see the denial behavior. Flint residents have been complaining for over a year about their water. Finally Governor Snyder has admitted their is a problem. If our leaders are modeling this behavior, how can we fix it in our schools?
Where can our students find positive role models? TV used to be full of them. Ranging from The Huxtables on the Cosby show to The Keatons on Family Ties. Of course preschool students see positive behaviors on Sesame Street and other PBS programing. Most mainstream programing lacks programing that contains positive role models. Now in a world of on-demand and 100’s of channels our youth can see shows that were once only seen after 10 pm, any time they desire.
Adults need to reflect on our values. DO we value adults behaving poorly? Is this the legacy we want to pass on to the next generation? Our children’s behavior is all learning, the majority of it by observing adults. Be the model you want others to follow! Time for the adults to shape up!