Using Heroes as Role Models in Values Education: A Comparison between Social Studies Textbooks and Prospective Teachers' Choice of Hero or Heroines

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study explores the relationships between the frequency and identities of heroes as role models used in the social studies textbooks in teaching 20 core values and prospective teachers' preferences of heroes. The findings indicated that there are striking similarities and differences between these two variables. For gender variable, 97,4 % of heroes found in the textbooks were male and % 2,6 was female, whereas all the heroes preferred by prospective teachers were male. Moreover, 73,6 % of heroes in the textbooks were national and 26,4 % was universal; 75 % of prospective students' preferences were national and 25 % was international. However, the study indicated that there is a low level of congruence between the two variables in terms of the identities of the heroes. While Atatürk was the most frequently used role model in the textbooks, prospective teachers' preferences of role models for the basic values constituted of Atatürk and religious heroes.

Key Words

Social Studies, Heroes, Value Education, Textbooks, Teacher Candidates.

The sources of civic virtues and values are different: family, peer groups, civil society, mass media, and schools. Because of some deficiencies and inadequacies of the formers, schools are the least objectionable institutions in teaching civic virtues and values (Kymlicka, 2004). With the increasing interest in value education, therefore, theorists and researchers alike have tried to develop efficient teaching methods and strategies. Among others, teaching values by observation in which role models constitute the essential part has long been accepted an important method in values education. Many studies indicated that cognitive efficiency and didactic or narrative methods alone are insufficient in teaching values. As Titus stated (1994), the method of "Do as I say, not as I do and that I so" is not a proper way of teaching values. Students need proper models whose words, actions and deeds are both consistent and good personal example. Although heroes are particularly related to the traditional methods of values education such as direct teaching of values (Doðanay, 2006), student-centered approaches would also use heroes as role models in teaching values.

We think that there are at least two main reasons of using heroes in values education. First, since there is a strong emotional and affective aspect of values, using role models and heroes can be very effective. According to Albert Bandura (1977), individuals learn behaviors observationally by emulating models. He claims that the high-statue people are one of the most being emulated models in a society, some of whom are recognized as heroes or heroines in their field. Social learning theory is very relevant to the explanation of the positive and negative effects of heroes. Unfortunately, much of human behaviors such as smoke addiction and aggressiveness are also results of social learning (Dökmen, 1984; Herken & Özkan, 1998). The negative effects of television on children were documented by several national and international studies (Ryan & Linkona, 1992). In a study by McCrary (1999), kindergarten students were asked to draw a picture of their heroes and heroines. Of the seventeen participated students, whereas three of them drew the pictures of positive characters, fourteen drew the pictures of negative characters, that is, characters who were conducted violent behaviors.

Second, there is a conceptual connection between the concepts of "value" and "hero or heroine" because the latter is a value-laden concept. Very broadly, heroes are different from the ordinary people in the sense that they perform great tasks and actions, they do right things for the right reasons, and possess important virtues such as open-mindedness, patriotism, courage, leadership, perseverance etc., all of which include ethical aspects. While the moral characters of heroes are universal, they also reflect the values and emotions of their society (Brodbelt & Wall, 1985; Sanchez, 1998a). …