Self Esteem & the Schools
To the Editor:
. . . Chester E. Finn, Jr. begins his article, “Narcissus Goes to School” [June], by citing the conclusion of a California “Task Force to Promote Self-Esteem and Personal and Social Responsibility” 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.” Mr. Finn disagrees with this premise whereas I am in concurrence. My problem with both the California task force and Mr. Finn lies in defining self-esteem. The task force confuses true self-esteem with a cockeyed notion of self-esteem based on group membership. The fact is that self-esteem based on such group (or sheep) mentality is antithetical to true self-esteem.
As Mr. Finn correctly points out, the “positive-thinking” brand of self-esteem practiced by the Norman Vincent Peales of this country is congruent with the basic values of individualism and self-determination that formed the basis of this nation. . . . Where Mr. Finn goes slightly awry is when he separates self-esteem from personal efficacy or sense of control over one’s life.
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