Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Positive Role Models vs. Bullies: Can They Be Distinguished by Following Articulate Animals into Worlds of Suspended Disbelief?

Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Positive Role Models vs. Bullies: Can They Be Distinguished by Following Articulate Animals into Worlds of Suspended Disbelief?

Article excerpt

Introduction

   We are all following the leader, the leader, the leader
   We 're following the leader wherever he may go
   We won't be home till morning, till morning
   We won't be home till morning
   Because he told us so (1)

These lyrics from the Disney movie Peter Pan are familiar to most and represent the current conception regarding a follower's blind submissiveness to the wishes of the leader. In Sarah Sloan's article, "Characteristics of the Child Who is a Follower," she warns parents about the dangers of a child who demonstrates the characteristics of a follower. "If you were to look up the word follower in the dictionary, you would find follower defined as one who subscribes to the teachings of others: a servant." Further, Sloan states, "[Child-] followers tend to have poor social skills and co-dependency. [They] tend to shy away from responsibility for their actions and behavior." (2)

Fables and fairytales offer a different status of the follower. Stories, such as The Magic Lantern: A Fable About Leadership, Personal Excellence and Empowerment demonstrate the unique paradigm between the leader and followers. It identifies the power followers have in selecting and advising a leader and the follower's responsibility of at times functioning in leadership roles.

Dr. Rubino's fable, The Magic Lantern, tells the story of a group of dwarves and their young leader on a mission to restore peace and harmony to their village in turmoil.

   Throughout their journey, the characters overcome the many
   challenges, and through self-discovery, they develop the
   distinctions necessary to be the best that they can be as they step
   into leadership and lives of contribution to others. The Magic
   Lantern teaches us such noble lessons as the power of forgiveness,
   the meaning of responsibility and commitment, what leadership is
   really all about, the magic of belief and positive expectation, the
   value of listening as an art, the secret to mastering one's
   emotions and actions. (3)

"There is consensus among most of those who study stories designed for children that one of their most important, if not primary, purposes is to teach children the morals of their parents, religion, and/or society and, in doing so, influence their behavior." In the Journal of Anthropological Research, Peter Hunt is quoted as stating that children's stories "are overtly important educationally and commercially--with consequences across culture, from language to politics: most adults, and almost certainly the majority in positions of power and influence, read children's books as children, and it is inconceivable that the ideologies permeating those books had no influence on their development." In the same article, West states, "There has been a sense of some obligation on the part of children's books to provide a moral passageway through which a community's moral standards are communicated from one generation to the next. Children's literature can play an important role in the process of child rearing." (4) A major concern for parents today, as well as society overall, is the increased level of violence and the willingness of children to silently witness peers being bullied and harassed.

Motivation

Bullying and hostility in schools are major concerns, just as they are in society overall. A response to this critical situation has been state mandates requiring school districts to have antibullying policies, as well as weapons policies. Most school districts meet these mandates through the implementation of pre-packaged, anti-bullying kits that do not include the usage of literature and stories that are well-know, highly popular, and selected by the children. Throughout recorded history, stories and literature have been used by all cultures to teach society values. Based on this historic foundation, my study explores the benefits to school and antibullying programs of using highly popular, self-selected children's literature, in lieu of or in conjunction with pre-packaged kits. …

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