Thursday, September 29, 2005

Self Esteem – Important, Fact or Fiction?

Many conservatives for years tried to point out the importance of self-esteem, and finally the school systems started to try to introduce it into the curriculum. After several years it was deemed a failure. Let’s examine why.

First we need to understand how some one obtains self-esteem. The only way to get self-esteem is to earn it. How does one earn it? By “doing something of redeeming value.” It must be something that almost everyone will be proud of. So, how is that done?

If little Johnny wins a spelling bee, or helps a little old lady across the street, or helps his little brother clean up his room. This is how people feel good about themselves. Is this selfishness?

I went to a seminar and the speaker asked this very deep question….”Is Altruism really possible?”

He went on…”If one helps an old lady across the street, is he doing it purely for selfless reasons, or is he doing it because it makes him feel good? Maybe the answer is that man was meant to seek happiness, (everyone wants to go to heaven because it is where they will be happy), and that through service to others we not only gain happiness, but we help others along the way. Notice I said happiness and not pleasure, there is a big difference. Immorality never was happiness.

In the school systems they tried to “give” the students self-esteem by making it easy to succeed. Notice they didn’t expect them to “earn” it; they wanted to “give” it to them.

How? By making everyone a winner and no losers. This way, they reasoned no one would feel bad and everyone will feel good. Well, you can’t fool most people, including most little kids. They saw through the phony platitudes and reasoned that what they did was nothing to feel proud of, because it required little effort and no sacrifice.

Helping others in need such as with Hurricane Katrina, is how we not only make others feel good through service to them, but it brings us self-esteem and happiness.


At 9:02 PM, Blogger George said...

I agree that "everybody wins" is a bunch of garbage. But the struggle I find is to encourage students who have failed for years. Often times we have to recognize what to us is a miniscule achievement, but what to them was overcoming a major hurdle. The only way a teacher can do is to know his students.

I know some districts are using test data to help students see their need to improve. Most of the students I work with are responsive to numerical data. They want to know how close they are to improving. I have them calculate their "what if' grade and it seems to help.

At 9:41 PM, Blogger Free Agency Rules said...

We need to put students in positions where they can succeed.

One of my favorite teachers had a real profound affect on my outlook on life. While some were looking at "the grass is always greener" attitude, she said "blossom where you are planted" and you will have a happy and productive life.

I admire teachers who can prepare students for a world that is not fair and help them to realize this fact while at the same time not letting them use the excuse that they are victums.


At 9:16 AM, Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

Excellent post and very good point. That reminds me of those little leagues that hand out trophies to everyone so each kid feels like a winner. But, all it does is render the reward meaningless.

That said, the problem with schools is they often apply a one-size-fits-all approach to the students instead of figuring out how each student learns. My husband is a rocket scientist (literally), but in his first few years of school his teachers labeled him "slow" because he didn't read as quickly as everyone else. Thank goodness for his concerned parents, or he might have been discouraged from trying.

Not all kids respond to the same things, it's okay to be good at one thing and not at others and teachers need to develop flexibility in their approaches. A school should not be a xerox machine.

You should check out Ayn Rand's The Virtue Of Selfishness. Nathaniel Branden (another libertarian) wrote a book entitled the Psychology of Self-Esteem), but it's a dry read.

At 9:52 AM, Blogger fetching jen said...

The basic concept of "earning" anything is lost on the younger generations. Whether it is earning a position at work, or earning enough money to buy a nice house and car, or earning your own selfworth and esteem, it must be earned. Gifts are short lived.

At 9:54 AM, Blogger Free Agency Rules said...


I totally agree. Einstien failed Algebra.

The key is to get them going on what interests them.


At 9:56 AM, Blogger Free Agency Rules said...


Right On as usual. :)


At 9:59 AM, Blogger Free Agency Rules said...


I should have added that the reason Einstien failed Algebra was because it didn't hold his interest, he was bored.


At 5:04 PM, Blogger Bstermyster said...

So I agree completely. I fought tooth and nail to not become a product of the "everyone wins" generation. I chose to be homeschooled my senior year of highschool for this very reason. People thought I was insane. Why would a person choose to do that??? I felt myself getting lazy because I knew I could do no work and get a b in the class for participation but I wanted to actually learn. I got tired of being assigned projects with due dates in 2 weeks, that any teen could complete in three days(and I did) but I had kids in most classes who would sometimes make the assignment deadline later by "group persuasion" of the teacher convincing him/ her they needed more time. They would obviously get the extension for the entire class and I would sit there for three weeks bored out of my gord. So I went to home school and finished my senior year in six months. I graduated in 96 and I can't imagine what it is like these days.

At 4:04 PM, Blogger Roseville Conservative said...

FAR - Thanks for all the comments and support on my blog.

As usual, your insights and instincts are fantastic.

I am glad you are now part of the WA team!


At 6:03 PM, Blogger Free Agency Rules said...


My pleasure. :)



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