No role model will do

Out of 100 American teens, only three are likely to say they see members of the clergy as role models, according to a survey on teens and ethical decision making.

Well, that's a relief.

Though I've never believed in 'role models'. The idea that you could influence people's behaviour for the better, let alone teenager's behaviour, by asking them to copy the achievements of other people that moralistic adults think they should follow is, at best, wishful thinking and, at worst, deliberate self-deception.

If there is anything at all in a 'role model' I think it's much more likely to work the other way round. Youngsters will (if it occurs to them to bother - or, perhaps, to satisfy the questions of adult enquirers) choose people who they think do the things they want to do - whether it's armed robbery or olympic achievement, billionaires or drop-outs.

On the other hand this report says,

“There is a troubling incongruence between the degree to which teens feel ethically prepared to enter the workforce, and the unethical behaviors in which they engage,” commented David W. Miller, director of the Princeton University Faith & Work Initiative and professor of business ethics at Princeton University, according to JA Worldwide.

“The survey results do prompt concerns about teens’ future workplace behavior and forecast serious challenges to businesses around how they will need to prepare and train these future leaders,” he added.

But even so, I'm not that worried. The gap between teenage anticipation of the working environment and reality is vast. What is most likely is that they will slip naturally into the ethical behaviour of their workplace as they grow into it. Therefore it's not the teenagers we should worry about so much as the existing ethical standards in places of employment - i.e. those of the present adults.

So perhaps that's another reason why teenagers shouldn't emulate clergy. Who'd want to be in a business marked by systemic dishonesty and self-censorship?


No comments:

Post a Comment