Dangerous Dan Thoughts and musings on the world


The Dangers of Self-Esteem

Filed under: Education — Dangerous Dan @ 6:29 pm

One of the worst concepts of modern education is that it is the responsibility of schools to maximize their charges' self-esteem. A youngster's self-esteem is seen as all-important and so curriculum and policy get centered around it. Receiving an 'F' would be too harsh and detrimental to Johnny's well-being, so he will get an 'incomplete' instead. Though Suzy’s work is inadequate and below average, she will get a B. Bobby can't spell, but the teacher will coo at him about what a good effort he's putting in, even if he's putting in no effort at all.

Personally, I don't give a damn about students' self-esteem. The purpose of school isn't to make one feel good about himself, it's to educate him. I suppose self-esteem has a bearing insofar as the student shouldn't be humiliated or purposely degraded, but no efforts should be made to falsely increase it either. By giving kids grades they haven't earned and treating them as exceptions they are not, you only set them up for failure. Reason being that the real world doesn't give a damn about their self-esteem. You now have teenagers and young adults entering the work force and they're shocked at just how little employers care about their individuality or self-perception and how preoccupied said employers are with their knowledge and performance.

This brings me to the latest instance of the self-esteem craze in the San Bernardino City Unified School District. It has decided to incorporate ebonics into its curriculum. Instead of treating ebonics as the miserable variant dialect it is, the district is treating it as another language (as Oakland once tried doing). Thus, they are essentially creating an ESL program around ebonics. What's really amazing is the justification for this program:

The goal of the district's policy is to improve black students' academic performance by keeping them interested in school. Compared with other racial groups in the district, black students go to college the least and have the most dropouts and suspensions.

That's right. By teaching students in a dialect that uses poor grammar, poor syntax, poor spelling, and a stunted vocabulary, they think it will lead to academic success, including, apparently, increased representation in college. As I said, this is a setup for failure. While the students may feel better about themselves while in school, the real world will chew them up. Outside of communities that use the dialect and the low-level opportunities they offer, these students have few prospects. Accounting firms hire people who can speak and write proper English. Corporations hire managers who can speak and write proper English. Responsible colleges reward and pass students who can speak and write proper English. San Bernardino will give its pupils a short-term self-esteem boost (if that) which will be followed up by a miserable life of dead-ends and people constantly asking them, "What?!".

You do children no favors by catering to and affirming their weaknesses in the name of self-esteem. You learn through failure as much as by success and being told what you do wrong is often more instructive than being told what you do right. By telling kids that it's ok they speak poor English and falsely letting them think that doing so is a path to happiness instead of long-term misery is nothing less than a form of abuse.

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  1. This Ain’t No Jive: Ebonics Be Back

    Word up!

    Michelle Malkin reports: “Check out the latest edu-follies in San Bernardino, Calif. Apparently, ebonics has been resurrected and is now a considered a civil right:

    (Staying ignorant is more of a personal choice, not a right. But it’s …

    Trackback by California Conservative — 7/18/2005 @ 9:10 pm

  2. My Elementary School Makes The News

    But unfortunately not in a good way. The San Bernardino Unified School District has decided to introduce Eubonics into the cirriculum and my former elentary school (which if I understand correctly eventually became the King Middle School in the story)…

    Trackback by Pete The Elder — 7/20/2005 @ 10:35 am

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