Self Esteem: Most people seem to have missed the most important word in this newly invented concept. It is the word “self.”
All manner of ideologies have tried to sell us on the concept that we should artificially increase self esteem as a panacea for everything somewhat reminiscent of the snake oil salesmen of old. They assert that if we can just fix children’s low self esteem, they will suddenly want to learn, will suddenly become motivated and will magically stop performing poorly.
Oddly enough, if one looks at the academic and non-academic performance ratings of American school children, they have drastically dropped across the boards since this cure-all idea of boosting a child’s opinion of himself started being incorporated into school curricula.
Let me first explain how elementary school teachers are coached regarding raising self esteem. “Always praise the child whether he has done the work correctly or not.” From this utterly delusional foundation we get such programs as “creative spelling” which encourages a child to spell words the way he thinks they should be spelled with zero emphasis on the fact that one should learn correct spelling.
This type of program is the very reason why colleges are now being forced into teaching basic reading, writing and arithmetic that should be mastered after the 4th grade and why personnel directors are in a state of shock when high school graduates cannot spell the words ‘back, start, them, road’ and ‘where.’
The deadly result of this social engineering program is a child who doesn’t bother to do things right… he will be warmly acknowledged regardless of whether he has done the task correctly or not so there is no particular reason to master anything.
This rolls forward into our all-too-common worker mentality: “I just put in my time… I am not a professional, just a worker-bee and if I do something wrong or tangle things up, well, I tried my best…”
Back in the day, we learned how to spell a word and then we practiced it until we were in the habit of writing it correctly. If we didn’t know how to spell something, we found out – either by looking it up (really!) or by asking the teacher.
It is almost too simple but it seems to bear repeating: self esteem comes from doing things well, achieving a goal and completing a task. By definition, it cannot come from another person.
With the help of a wise adult – who praises effort and takes the time to help one do things right, a child will automatically think highly of his abilities and is willing to take on the world!