In Berlin early on a Sunday morning, with few cars on the streets, local people will wait at a red pedestrian crossing light until it changes to green. In Dublin, for many pedestrians a red light serves merely as a signal to pause briefly before crossing if no traffic is in sight. Why are Berliners so law abiding?
A tour guide explained that it is because they want to show good example to children. Adult pedestrians could flout red lights if no traffic is about, but they know that if they do, young children may begin to do so too, and not having the road experience of adults, such actions are more likely to be detrimental to children.
That may or may not be the real explanation as to why Berliners take traffic lights seriously, but it is a good reason to do so.
Adults teach as much to children by their example as they do by their words. By growing up in a culture we learn which behaviours are acceptable and which are not. We learn from those around us how to treat people, animals and the environment. We learn how to celebrate, how to overcome adversity, and how to spend our free time.
This kind of teaching happens not just in school but everywhere. Every citizen has a teaching role in society. Such teaching differs from teaching that takes place in school settings.
Every one of us can teach virtues such as perseverance, respect, honesty, courtesy, citizenship in every action. We are all role models for the young and impressionable in society. Indeed, we are role models for each other. If every adult citizen takes seriously their position as role model, teachers’ work in schools would be easier.