It was quite some years ago now that the movie, Accidental Hero, was aired. It told the story of people who were rescued from a burning plane by a man who then disappeared into the night. The tale reveals that the hero was actually an ordinary family man but clearly someone who was decent when it really mattered. It’s a great message on the importance that no matter your pay grade or status it’s about who you are when no one is looking; who you are consistent with every day and in every situation.
It used to be the adults (parents, extended family, teachers, etc.) who guided young people to become the sort of citizens they are going to be. To challenge them when manners were lacking, or chivalry and courtesy were needed; and, how to be others-centred. However, these days our young people are also insidiously being influenced as they scroll their social media and online entertainment platforms. Algorithms are introducing them to curated content that cares little about what is best for them. Instead, it’s more concerned about the number of clicks their platform receives and their adult mentors are very often unaware of what their young people are viewing, thinking it innocuous and harmless when this isn’t always the case. One such influencer is Andrew Tate as further discussed in this article.
It takes a village to raise a child – and we all need to help our young people know their ‘Why’. Why is it important to have healthy bodies, respectful relationships, and make the most of opportunities such as a good education, and sporting and artistic opportunities? When they have the ‘why’, there is a base to navigate the difficult conversations on the importance of things like gaming time management, astute Youtube viewing, or managing their comments made on social media. Asking your child about their thoughts on Influencers like Andrew Tate is an excellent way to help them process what they’re watching and build a critical thinking approach to all aspects of their lives and be more self-aware as they interact with others, make choices, respond, and engage with online platforms.
What you Permit you Promote
It’s also useful to hold up a mirror on ourselves, as their adult mentors, by asking the question: ‘What do we celebrate?’ because what we acknowledge and highlight is what we are cultivating. It’s not always clear what these are until we stop and think about what are we giving a lot of our ‘airtime’ to. For example, do we value our child learning another language and learning about other cultures, or do we knock it? Do we excuse it when our children don’t do well due to lack of effort by regaling our own negative school experiences or do we tell our children that we may not have done as well as we could have and instead we want them to be the best version of themselves by applying themselves to their school work? The attitudes of their adult mentors are so important in shaping their values and what they will and won’t accept.
We all know that we need to surround our Middle School young people with those that will steer them to cultivate honourable adult citizenship. Then they will be better equipped to handle whatever ‘heat-of-the-moment opportunities arise in this brave new world they are moving into.
Jacqualina Vreeling, Head of Middle School