Narcissus Goes to School
Seven years ago, Americans were warned that a “rising tide of mediocrity” threatened to drown their schools, their children, and their nation. Although that tide has scarcely ebbed, today it is being swelled by another huge wave: a tsunami of artificial self-esteem.
Of course, almost everyone in the field of education has come to hold precisely the opposite premise—namely, that the great problem is a lack of self-esteem. Thus in California, the opening days of the new decade brought the final report of the state’s “Task Force to Promote Self-Esteem and Personal and Social Responsibility.” In three-plus years of labor, this 26-member bipartisan panel, established at the behest of veteran legislator John Vasconcellos, remained unintimidated by multiple Doonesbury cartoons lampooning it as “the first official study of New-Age thinking.” At the conclusion of its labors, the task force grandiloquently declared that “The lack of self-esteem is central to most personal and social ills plaguing our state and nation as we approach the end of the 20th century.”
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