The pressures of being a ‘role model’


If you’ve ever seen the Channel 4 comedy Teachers then you might understand why the GTCE is considering implimenting a ‘role model’ code.  But is this really needed or necessary?  Yes, role models are influential, especially in the earlier years of childrens’ development, but shouldn’t they be allowed a private life?

Teachers are  set to get a ‘role model’ code outlining what behaviour is seen as ‘acceptable’ both in and out of school.  We could face losing our status if we get drunk and into arguments while out socialising, or do not get help for drink or drug problems if a draft GTCE code it approved. 

Obviously, as we know from Behaviourist theories like Social Learning Theory (SLT) that children are impressionable and will, if given the right environment and resinforcement immitate behaviours which they see ‘role models’ doing; but are we taking this ‘code of conduct’ too far? 

Some of the comments from the BBC News website highlight this:

“Teachers are human beings. Their private lives should not be the subject of scrutiny by anybody”

“Isn’t the principle of teachers as role models common sense? If a teacher falls too far short of this, they are probably better suited to a different career. It’s insulting that teachers are told something so basic, after all their more advanced training and experience. Wouldn’t the government’s budget be better spent dealing with real educational issues, rather than formalising and drafting policies for common sense?”

What are your thoughts on this?  Should teachers have a ‘code of conduct’ that dictates what behaviours are seen as appropriate or should it be left to individual teachers to understand the important role they play in childrens’ lives?

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5 Responses to “The pressures of being a ‘role model’”

  1. Oli January 12, 2009 at 10:37 am #

    This sort of thing has got way out of hand.
    It’s political correctness gone mad!

    It’s easy to see with less experienced teachers how they follow the guidelines they’re given, for example, you’re no longer allowed to say “Brain-storm” in a class as it may offend epileptic children!? and it really reduces the experience of learning if you can’t connect with a teacher as a person, in my opinion.
    If behaviour like this is actually enforced we’re just one step closer to becoming robots! am I right?

  2. Hanxa January 15, 2009 at 7:30 pm #

    this is out of order… sorry, but why should teachers need to conform like that outside of school. does it mean they can’t go out to a party or summin? can’t celebrate?

    i can kinda see where they are coming from, but i think teachers generally are good role models inside of school where it’s needed. kids don’t really see their teachers outside of school hours and so, really, it shouldn’t matter how they behave outside of school as long as they are fit to work in the school environment during the day. (ie, they aren’t hungover on a school day).

    i mean, realistically, are these people suggesting that we should all give up our lives for the sake of being role models? this is just the start of a ban to clubbing, drinking and all that jazz (always wanted to use that phrase ^^)

    i think they should scrap that. if teachers aren’t fit to teach they get sacked anyway.

    another way it’s gone too far: high school, GCSE teacher is now on the teacher’s register because he was joking around and said that one way to get good grades was to sleep with the examiners… i nkow teachers who’ve made the same joke before. it’s harmless. but no, he is now on the dreaded register… if he was a teacher at our school he’d have been laughed at and someone would come up with a quirky comeback…. what is the world coming to??

  3. PsychoCliff May 8, 2009 at 12:01 am #

    For starters Hanxa you should be setting a good example by reading mags like Psych Review and not Jazz!

    Seriously though, as a teacher you are always going to be a role model whatever, even more so if you are a male teacher in a female dominated subject like Psych.

    I’ve seen psych teachers come and go over the last few decades and these days it is such a monitoring culture that one cannot afford to get sucked into what is just a bi-product of the blame culture we as teachers have to operate in.

    One way i have found to get around my swearing in my classes is to use “Personal swear words” – you know what i mean you clever “Baskets”! Does this mean i can be sacked at a semantic level but not structural??

    Anyway i’m off now to ride my 170mph sports motorbike – poor role model for Psychology HODs out there or just human……….although i do have a reflective visor come to think of it.

  4. farouk August 17, 2009 at 10:32 am #

    if teachers are role models because they follow a certain code then why not be honest and follow it even when no one is watching them? else they will be lying to their students

  5. London Counselling September 5, 2011 at 6:45 pm #

    To be a role model comes a great responsibility. With teachers as such, all I can say is that their code of conduct should always be highly observed in any way that the people involved can be regulated and can regulate it. Professionalism, at least, so as with separating your teaching career to the personal life of yours.

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