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Self-Esteem and Life’s Inherent Vicissitudes

December 7, 2011

Jonah Goldberg has an interesting post at NRO concerning Newt Gingrich’s recent comments on teaching kids the basics of life.  I was particularly impressed with his last paragraph, and I wanted to comment on it.  I’m throwing in the last two for context:

Traditionally, parents are supposed to teach kids the importance of hard work, punctuality, responsibility, respect for elders, etc. If parents can’t or won’t do that, then I don’t see why liberals should oppose the schools stepping in to do so. Now, the response from a liberal might be “We don’t oppose that, but making kids scrub filthy toilets is demeaning and bound to fail.”

Again, fair enough. But here’s the problem: Any serious attempt to teach poor inner-city kids the old fashioned values of self-respect and self-discipline are going to be open to the charge of being “demeaning.” Holding values-education hostage to the self-esteem of kids is a surefire way to ensure that you don’t teach some important values and end up boosting the self-esteem of kids to their detriment.

What better example of “detriment” than the kids getting kicked out of parks all across the developed world after a month or so of temper tantrums?

I’m a fan of pointing out to employees at my company that we don’t run a self-esteem camp.  We get (bleep) done.  If that means you don’t get rewarded for only being five minutes late, then suck it up, cupcake. (Side note, this is part of why I have a very limited career, but it’s really fun to see the expressions.)  I’m not going to claim a life of licking floors clean to make it to where I am, but I’ll happily note that it’s been a long time since I’ve ever worked a forty-hour week… and I mean it the other way.  If doing the drudge work or taking the extra time to make what I need to happen happen, then it’s necessary.

I remain very troubled by people who insist on regulating life in some way becase it’s not fair.  Well, here’s a news flash: it isn’t.  We all get hit by good and bad fortune in, to us, a completely random way, and our reaction to adversity is the difference between success and living in a cold tent with the other hippies (or any other negative result… that one just came to my mind).  If Mr. Gingrich and others that agree with him believe that starts with a little life lesson early on, then I’m an enthusiastic supporter.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 12, 2011 7:36 am

    you make me laugh with the way you put it.

    but yeah, that constant referral to “fair” drives me bats too. There’s no such thing as fair! It’s one of my mantras around the house.

    • December 12, 2011 8:39 am

      Fair around the house is the kids paying the consequences for everything they do instead of every 20th thing. I don’t think they’d see it that way, though.

      My dog believes that fair in the household would be an ever-full bowl.

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