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Teaching Values by Role Model Example

This has been one of the most used Old Kia Kima approaches to teaching values. Old Kia Kima had an abundance of excellent Role Models that would stand out in ways that others admired and wanted to emulate. Since Role Models match up what they say with what they do, using/choosing good role models is a powerful way to teach skills and values. People who are good role models encourage us through the examples of their words and especially their behaviors.

In actual practice, while just one person might be chosen as the primary role model, the fact is that everyone potentially has multiple role models for ethical behavior, and/or for special skills, talents, or values. As was the case at OKK, the best Role Models took it to the next level – they actually gave others the chance to step into their role and literally take a brief role-play turn at being the Leader and to practice applying the behaviors previously observed. This was a common teaching method – see it done with skill and expertise, practice doing it repeatedly to acquire a similar level of skill and expertise, and then model and teach it to others.

Examples of how this was routinely applied to transmitting values can be found in the following common occurrences: Teaching outdoor skills that built self-confidence and developed leadership; treating others with honesty, dignity and respect which developed Integrity; and encouraging others to be their best and to do their best, which developed the values of Responsibility, Achievement, and Courage.

By observing a Role Model's behaviors, we are provided with a reference point or example for how we might want to deal with a similar situation, be it a situation that requires the application of a skill - or especially the demonstration of a value. When confronted with similar decisions and/or circumstances, by observing Role Models and emulating the examples they have set, we can clarify and decide to act upon the right choices in life.

Our youth make conscious and subconscious everyday decisions about who they want to emulate and “be like”, and what that “looks like” as they act out those choices. By conforming to the norms of their reference group, they choose to “be like” all those in that group who have done likewise – unless their personal values are strong enough to say otherwise. The “good news” and the “bad news” in this observation can be summed up in just a few words; “choose well” if you are the chooser, and “encourage good choices” if you are in the role of influencing the chooser with good Role Model examples.

There is a key point implicit in the previous discussion on Role Models that needs elaboration: all youthful participants are potential Role Models, and many will become exemplary examples to others if first developed for that role by older peers and adults, then given many opportunities to demonstrate & lead by example.