Thursday, October 4, 2012
Construct With Memory
What is the difference between a hero, a celebrity, and a role model?
When I would first ask my college students this question, as an introduction to a research essay, at least half the students responded with a puzzled expression. Usually one would have the courage to reply, “Aren’t they all the same?”
So we would break out into small groups to write definitions and give examples and talk out experiences. This was one set of essays I always looked forward to reading to see how they discovered personal concrete definitions of their own that related to their lives.
Two quotes from our readings that drew the most discussion included the “hero evolves as the culture evolves” according to Joseph Campbell discussing the hero’s adventure, and one article re Rosa Parks that said, “Perhaps the most interesting thing about her was how ordinary she was.”
In some ways Rosa Parks did fit all three definitions but as the class continued to research and discuss it became more obvious that it was outside perceptions that created all the labels—and were not necessarily warranted in all situations. Because of her personal integrity and genuine character, Rosa Parks was already a role model who then became a news celebrity by her actions and has since become a hero.
But then is a hero someone who does one amazing rescue or a faithful parent who shows up each day? How can we determine quality substance under media glitz?
And then, how have our lives been influenced by those whom we desire to emulate? What happens when we discover our ‘heroes’ have clay feet?
Have you heard the saying that you are what you eat? The application applies to be careful whom we have emulated, or do so now, and what we value as purpose in life.
1. Ask your character how she defines a hero, a celebrity and a role model?
2. Based on her answers choose which one has had the most personal influence on her?
3. Is the influence positive or negative? Why?
Share: What characteristic of your personal role model do you still try to emulate?