Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Education

Self-Control NOT Self-Esteem

Dennis Prager's column at NRO today discusses the evolution of the "self-esteem" school of thought that--despite ample evidence of and experience with its deleterious consequences--still seems to function as the de-facto premise of all institutions concerning the education and activities of today's children.  Prager suggests that in the eyes of most ordinary people, this emperor now stands naked and they realize what a disaster his methods have been.  I agree with him that there is an undercurrent of mockery and complaint surrounding the self-esteem movement. 

Unfortunately, however, if the practical adoption of this approach is dying at all, it appears to be dying a very slow and obnoxious death despite this undercurrent of scorn.  It lingers, unwanted and unloved, but it refuses to be ignored.  Perhaps for those of us raised with the approach, there remains a lingering suspicion that we are engaged in some form of cruelty when we do not massage the egos of our children--and maybe our vanity suggests to us more power in our role as molder and shaper of our children's egos than any parent has a right to imagine he possesses.

As a corrective to that temptation, today's parents and teachers ought constantly to remind themselves of the following:  "[G]ood character is created by teaching self-control, not self-esteem . . . if you don't agree with this conclusion, do the following:  Ask the finest people you know how much self-esteem they had as a child.  Then ask all the narcissists you know how much their parent(s) praised them."
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