Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Education and Self Esteem

Jonah Goldberg:
America's educational industrial complex . . . has worked tirelessly to make our kids think the most of themselves regardless of their accomplishments.

The unsung hero of this story is Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. Few of us realized that the saccharine sage of preschool TV, who died in 2003, was preparing American youth for the rough-and-tumble world of global competition. Beneath that soft red sweater beat the heart of a warrior.

"You've made this day a special day," he said at the end of every show. "Just by being you. You are the only person like you in this whole world. And people can like you just because you're you."

I remember during my own childhood how Saturday morning cartoons were punctuated with public service announcements informing me that "the most important person in the whole wide world is you." Looking at me today, who can deny the basic truth of these ads?

More broadly, America's educational elite has built on this down payment of unqualified self-regard by redefining what it means to be educated. Rather than be educated about meaningless stuff — dates, names, facts, figures and other trivia — these selfless patriots have committed to drilling it into kids that no matter how "stupid" or "ignorant" they are on paper, in the real world they are brilliant and wonderful.

The payoff is all around us.

Read the whole thing.