Opinion: Where are today’s role models?

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Do you know the ‘fundamental British values’ required to be actively promoted in the education system?

They were published in 2014. “Democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance for those of different faiths and beliefs”.


“To ensure young people understand the importance of respect and leave school fully prepared for life in modern Britain.”

It seems to me that the values are caps to wear that also fit many other democratic countries and ought not to be regarded as uniquely British.

Maybe our adherence to them singles us out? I’m not sure why they are particularly tagged to a modern Britain.

They were the staple bread and butter diet in my young days in post-war London and I imagine in North Yorkshire too. How do children learn?

Surely by example and practice, firstly at home and then at school.

They need to see and experience role models of these and other British values.

I cannot recall ever being taught about the rule of law but I was taught fundamental right from wrong by family, teachers, classmates, local beat Bobbies and, indeed, through moral teaching at Sunday School and the teaching material of the parables.

All seemed clear, consistent and cohesive.

Surrounding influences had, and took, responsibility for raising me and applying appropriate corrective action basically in love. It was the prevailing British culture of care.

Those breaking the law who damaged trust and hurt their community members were not just punished but also felt community displeasure, not only in Coventry!

There was therefore public shame which was a powerful deterrent to misbehaviour and a very effective ‘self-control’ on my actions.

The polar opposite sometimes now prevails with a badge of honour for disregarding the law. Simple respect and trust seems to have weakened. In the days of old, my elders, and therefore me, regarded particular roles and professions with absolute trust and as dependably solid as the Bank of England.

They included the doctor, cleric, bank manager, policeman, teacher, postman and councillor. They were integral to my community and therefore served my good.

Where are the role models for youngsters of generation ‘now’? Apart from parents and school teachers, do youngsters know the kind of people who helped shape me?

Probably not, since many of the roles have been subsumed within remote, faceless organisations operating on the engine of the web!

Where do people turn for advice nowadays?

The first step for many will be friends and family on Facebook.

This is particularly the case with youngsters. Friends’ advice may be trusted and preferred over parents or professionals and they are immediately on tap.

The value of individual liberty is indeed precious but it must be accompanied by responsibility towards my ‘neighbour’.

Modern Britain has much to carry forward from the past. Maybe the truly fundamental values that sustain are the building blocks of faith, hope and love. The foundation stone of these is love; the value to build on.