Friday, June 03, 2005

Calibrate Your Me-O-Meter

Low self-esteem is a secular counterpart to Christianity's doctrine of depravity. Many are persuaded that it is the spring from which all kinds of corruption flow despite the absence of evidence in support of that conviction. In a recent USA Today opinion piece, Christina Hoff Summers, co-author of One Nation Under Therapy (to which I've referred previously), illustrates the consequences of this deeply ingrained cultural belief for the education of children. Here are some examples:
The National PTA recommends a cooperative alternative to the fiercely competitive "tug of war" called "tug of peace." Some professionals in physical education advocate activities in which children compete only with themselves, such as juggling, unicycling, pogo sticking, and even "learning to... manipulate wheelchairs with ease."
The Girl Scouts of America recently launched a major campaign "to address the problem of low self-esteem among 8- to 14-year-old girls." (Never mind that there is no good evidence these girls suffer a self-esteem deficit.) With the help of a $2.65 million grant from Unilever (a major corporation that owns products such as Lipton and Slim Fast), its new program, "Uniquely ME!," asks girls to contemplate their own "amazing" specialness. Girls are invited to make collages celebrating themselves. They can play a getting-to-know-me game called a "Me-O-Meter."
One normally thinks of the Girl Scouts as an organization that fosters self-reliance and good citizenship. Me-O-Meters? How does that promote self-reliance? And is self-absorption necessarily good for young people?

Yes, say the mental health experts at Girl Scout Research Center. The Uniquely ME! pamphlet tells its young readers, "This booklet is designed to help boost your self-esteem by celebrating YOU and your uniqueness. ... Having high self-esteem ... can help you lead a more successful life."

Now, wasn't this just an excellent post? I'd sure feel good about myself and would probably treat others a whole lot better if you'd leave an affirming comment. Wow! That therapeutic mindset really is contagious.

1 comment:

Tom Gilson said...

Self-esteem can be so ridiculous--it's such an easy target to kick around--I wonder if that affects self-esteem's self-esteem?

I once heard Henry Cloud explain self-esteem this way, and I think he's right on the mark: healthy self-esteem does matter, but most everyone has it all wrong. From a Biblical perspective, it's not "I am a good person," but "I am a loved person."