Here's an interesting story from the BBC about how the bankrupt but pervasive self-esteem movement in parenting and education results in empty narcissists instead of mature, confident, compassionate young adults. Even "the chief executive of the centre for confidence and well-being in Scotland" warns educators that a steady diet of false praise has "gone too far." She may put herself out of a job with talk like this:
She said an obsession with boosting children's self-esteem was encouraging a narcissistic generation who focussed on themselves and felt "entitled".
"Narcissists make terrible relationship partners, parents and employees. It's not a positive characteristic. We are in danger of encouraging this," she said.
"And we are kidding ourselves if we think that we aren't going to undermine learning if we restrict criticism.
"Parents no longer want to hear if their children have done anything wrong. This is the downside of the self-esteem agenda.
"I'm not saying it's of no value… but you get unintentional consequences."
Constant praise is one of the principle carrots used in carrot-and-stick parenting, a method I've come to seriously question. Adult-child conversation is typically spiked with false, empty praise. I mentioned this in a post a while back:
This all brings to mind the book Generation Me by Jean M. Twenge. She dissects the self-esteem mania that is still firmly in place in our homes and schools. If you have young children, try counting how many times you say "good job" in one day. Then try ditching that empty phrase and see how hard it is.It's our little seal of approval, a mass-produced sticker we slap on everything children do that is remotely positive.
Back to the BBC story. Teachers in in the UK are now expected to practice psychology and counseling without a license:
Since 2007, there has been a statutory responsibility on schools in England to improve pupils' well-being and primary and secondary schools are increasingly teaching social and emotional skills.
Indeed it is possible that Ofsted inspectors will soon appraise schools' performance in this area; and well-being could be one of the measures used in the school report card system that the government wants to introduce.
But Dr Craig told head teachers that this was not the role of schools.
"Schools have to hold out that they are educational establishments," she said.
"They are not surrogate psychologists or mental health professionals."
Learning about feelings from a professional in a classroom did not send out a positive message, she added.
And she warned there was a danger the more schools taught emotional well-being, the less parents would take responsibility.
"We run the risk of undermining the family as the principal agent of sociability," she said.
Pundit and I don't send our children to government schools. But judging from our neighbors, including teachers and parents, schools are already fully engaged in shaping the emotional and social lives of their students. Teachers see it as part of their job. And inherent in messages on what constitutes emotional and social well-being are moral values which may or may not coincide with your own. Like moral relativism.
An anecdote from real life: Two moms are talking on the porch after school. The child of Mom A, a public school teacher, relates a local news story she has heard at school, about a teenager who has murdered his parents. Mom A explains this atrocity to her child with these words: "He made a bad choice." Mom B, horrified, exits.
File this under "another reason to homeschool."
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