Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What does it take to become important?

It used to amaze me over the years that when asking students ( I usually taught grade 7 and or 8), what they wanted to be when they grew up, their answer often was "a famous fill-in-the-blank". By extension then, if I am not famous, I am a failure.
 I puzzled about this over the years. Why did they want to be a famous hockey player, artist, writer, movie star, etc.? Why not a successful one? Why not a talented one? Why not a respected one? Was fame the god they were chasing and not the role itself?
 In our western culture, where its not what you know, but who you know, where its better to be popular than to be right, where there's no such thing as bad publicity, how do we protect our kids from chasing fame, at the expense of a worthwhile trait?
 How do you promote celebrity in your home?
 How do you talk about celebrities?
 How do you talk about yourself and fame?
 How can we promote effort over results?


welcome to my world of poetry said...

I think being one's self and being true to one's self is the most we can ask. Being famous is not the be all and end all of life.

Most interesting issue.


lizy-expat-writer said...

Kids will always have heroes, and only the famous are in public view at their age. If someone famous does something bad or stupid we can point out that perhaps their fame made them less careful, but aiming high is important. Famous is just a word to kids, and it's up to parents to teach them that "I want to be the best at.." is a worthier aim.

Dennis and Valerie said...

I actually have a fame aversion- you can ask Dennis about it. I think my fame aversion was fostered during my growing up years by parents who did not give any credence to flash in the pan artists, celebrities, rich people or famous people who got there by doing lame things or things that didn't have eternal value. I'm not sure sticking one's head in the sand is the only solution to raising grounded children, but a little dose of reality and a "we're all pretty normal around here" mindset does help. What's wrong with living a normal, quiet life? People seek fame but to what end? Ultimately to elevate self worth. It's a twisted world... (I'd better step off my soap box now.)

Dennis and Valerie said...

Hey, I just read something on the topic of fame that reminded me of what I read on your blog. It is definitely worth reading.

Elizabeth said...

This is great.
Fame is transient and arbitrary so why is it so attractive to people?
I like your posts - short and to the point.

loverofwords said...

I think my students from LA would have said the same thing--model, etc. We don't have heroes in our culture, even astronauts are passe. But unfortunately, the wrong people are glorified in our culture. With maturity though, most, I hope, follow their true passions.

J. Burroughs said...

We are not very celebrity-oriented as a family. We have our interests of shows or books, so we think a lot of, read up on or even try to see the actors and authors, but more as an appreciation for what they do that aspiring to be just like them. With our lack of interest in the most popular and mainstream celebrity circles, I haven't given much thought to the issues you describe, Ron, but they are so true and worth exploring as a society.

With technology the way it is, now, more than ever, anyone of any age can gain "fame" for good or ill. The attention garnered makes the end rewarding in itself. Does achieving fame satisfy the need for purpose in life? Not really.

Funny: my four year old son wanted to watch Disney-Pixar's Cars this morning. It's a good story for just this topic!

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Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

I think the cult of celebrity is world-wide. I'd be less worried if kids wanted to be a famous physicist (for example) than a famous actor! Praising people who do worthwhile things for society is one strategy, as is saying why you're impressed with them. This is perhaps one positive of the Australian "tall poppy" culture where you can only get so "big" before "they" try to bring you back to earth.