Social Teachers and Professional Development (Part Six)


By Ken Keis

This is the sixth of a seven-part series. Start with Part One and watch for the final installment in

Previously in this series, I outlined the impact of Personal Style, Bio-Physical Factors, Self-Worth, and Environmental Systems on your personality. Herein, I cover the Social Teachers within of the Personality Factors Development Model™.

With this personality development category we find the significant others whose personality and behaviour we have copied via the social learning process is called modeling. We use other people as role models and develop an understanding of which behaviors are desirable and which should be avoided.

Much of the way we behave on a daily basis is learned from watching and imitating other people’s behavior. Frequently, this learning occurs indirectly and often without our being aware of it.

We call the people we imitate the most Social Teachers. A social teacher is anyone who has had a direct or indirect influence on the way you currently perceive, approach, or interact with the environment. Those influences could be either positive or negative. For instance, copying the behavior of social teachers has been shown to influence a broad range of behavior, from aggressiveness in children to the way children reward their own performances.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP: confirmed that a child’s input reflects his or her output. Social teachers can be video games, social media, music, and the like. Exposure to media violence through television, movies, music, and video games can contribute to a variety of physical and mental health problems for children and adolescents, including desensitization to violence and aggressive behavior, nightmares, fear, and depression.  Here is their statement:

Music plays an important role in the socialization of children and adolescents. Popular music is present almost everywhere, and it is easily available through the radio, various recordings, the Internet, and new technologies, allowing adolescents to hear it in diverse settings and situations, alone or shared with friends. Parents often are unaware of the lyrics to which their children are listening because of the increasing use of downloaded music and headphones.

Research on popular music has explored its effects on schoolwork, social interactions, mood, and effect, and particularly behavior. The effect popular music has on the behavior and emotions of children and adolescents is of paramount concern. Lyrics have become more explicit in their references to drugs, sex, and violence over the years, particularly in certain genres. A teenager’s preference for certain types of music could be correlated or associated with certain behaviors.

As with popular music, the perception and the effect of music-video messages are important, because research has reported that exposure to violence, sexual messages, sexual stereotypes, and use of substances of abuse in music videos might produce significant changes in behaviors and attitudes of young viewers. Pediatricians and parents should be aware of this information. Furthermore, with the evidence portrayed in these studies, it is essential for pediatricians and parents to take a stand regarding music lyrics.

American Academy of Pediatrics

Input Equals Output

The Social Teacher category always includes the people who raised us from birth—in most cases, our parents. It includes other family members with whom we frequently came into contact, especially those who are older than we are. That would include all your peers while growing up and other significant individuals with whom you have come into contact during your life, such as teachers, pastors, and athletic coaches.

Even media personalities, historical figures, authors, sports celebrities, and movie stars might be included in the category, if they had a significant impact upon your thinking and behavior.

An example of a social teacher is your first employer. I grew up on a dairy farm; I was taught to work hard and that taking time off was a treat. After my parents married, they worked 14 years without a single day off.

When I came home from college and wanted to have a couple of weekends off per month, they quickly adjusted my request from 2 weekends a month off, to 2 half-days a month.

As my first full-time employers, my parents taught me that hard work comes first and there is little time for play. In every position I have held since, I have put 110% into my efforts—no matter the working conditions or the pay being offered. The work ethic was instilled into my mind long ago as an important value.

A list of the social teachers who might have had some lasting impact upon your thinking, personality, and behavior include the following.

Parents In-laws Girlfriends
Brothers School teachers Boyfriends
Sisters Coaches Actors
Grandparents Friends Rock stars
Aunts Peers Supervisors
Uncles Neighbors Authors
Cousins Religious leaders Artists

Even today, your values are being shaped and influenced by the input you are allowing into your space and mind. It’s time to be brutally honest with yourself.

What are you allowing as input?

  • What kind of books or magazines did you buy—if any—last month? Are they positive and educational or frivolous, like People Magazine and the National Inquirer?
  • If I looked at your library, what would I find?
  • What about other media—TV, music, DVDs, movies? What was the content? How much time did you spend in each of those media? North Americans watch 6 to 8 hours of TV a day. That’s a lot of input.
  • If you have children, what input are you allowing them to absorb?
  • What about family and friends? Can you educate them on the impact of the input they are allowing into their lives?

Some of your choices and behaviors will be driven by your core values and behavioral values, many of which have been developed through Social Teachers.

Many felt that the Vancouver riots, (which followed game seven of the Stanley Cup hockey game) where caused but just a few who started the trouble. Though that appears to be true for the most violent offenders – the fact remains that hundreds of others followed suit and participated in destroying and stealing property. Even though mod mentality with alcohol played a role the core values of the offenders came into play. The influence of the social teachers (or lack of) reflected in their conduct. Who we are at the core is unavoidable. Do you know what you stand for?

One way to improve employee engagement is establishing congruence between organizational and individual values on foundational matters. Example: If you want security as an individual but the organization wants to embrace change and risk you have a values conflict. It is the role of HR to communicate, via leadership, what operation values your organization stands for and ensure that those values are being screened for as you added new members to your team.

Note: To confirm your core values and behavioral values, consider completing the  Values Preference Indicator to help you understand your top values and how they need to be present for you to have a fulfilled life.

Ken Keis is considered a global authority on the way assessment strategies increase and multiply your success rate. In 22 years, he has conducted more than 2000 presentations and 10,000 hours of consulting and coaching. Author of Why Aren’t You More Like Me? Discover the Secrets to Understanding Yourself and Others, Ken can be contacted at 604 852-0566,, or through

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