Since all the blogging world is in a tailspin over Miley Cyrus and her antics on MTV's VMAs, antics which have incidentally been the talk of the town (if you consider Facebook to be a town), it might be a great time to shift the focus away from Miley and the like, and instead start developing a schemata for a more positive role model for kids. That is, teachers.
Blogger Brant Hansen issued an open letter to Miley in which he apologized to her on behalf of like-minded adults for failing to protect young people like her from being infected by the very toxic cultural atmosphere that is the VMA awards. A place where shock is the new awe, and crass is admirable. And he summed it up with these words: "...kids don't need other kids as role models. Kids need adults."
And let me qualify that statement by adding this: what kids need are adults who are invested in helping them grow their character along with their brain. Helping them to live up to their incredible potential, while showing them that experiencing life can be done with an equal measure of integrity and passion.
As a mother of four children, I am of the firm belief that kids need parents first and foremost. But as I am also a teacher, I realize this ideal is not always possible. And having heard just this morning of a former student in the hands of Social Services due to parental neglect and abuse, I am forced to be more of the mindset that if there are to be adults involved, and it cannot be the parents, those adults must at times be the ones who are next in line. And who besides parents spend more time with children than teachers?
Teaching anyone is not for the faint of heart: teaching children recommended only for those who can see beyond the job to the heart of the students whom they teach. Teaching is less a job than it is a calling. And it is akin to that kind of calling one is drawn by when becoming a parent or grandparent, an aunt or uncle. You don't do it because you have to, you do it because you want to. And in the event that family fails kids, teachers must be ready to pick up the slack and carry the responsibility.
Am I saying that Miley's family failed her? Not really. I don't know the ins and outs of her family life and how it works. Making judgment calls about Miley and her family in light of what has happened is not my place. What I can do is make application to my calling as a teacher because I know my own students and their families, and I understand intimately what students need to succeed. And I also know that in choosing to be a teacher, I have accepted a certain sense of responsibility for those same children's well-being and growth all because I have chosen to be part of their lives. And I know this to be true: teachers can reach students and inspire them in ways that celebrity cannot.
Teachers have that kind of platform.
If there is any good to come out of this, if there is to be a silver lining to a dark cloud, it is this: maybe it's a wake-up call to us as adults. What we adults need to remember is that we have the potential to make a difference. Maybe we need to take back responsibility for things we have relinquished. And maybe it is time we started acting like adults ourselves so that kids have something to inspire to. And maybe we who are parents and teachers, coaches and mentors, maybe we need to realize the significant role we have to play in children's lives to inspire and lift them as people to live beyond the 'rabble and crass' that is our inferior cultural identity as portrayed by MTV.
Maybe it is time we gave kids something to think about, not just something to watch.