Solomon Asked for Wisdom - Not Self-Esteem
By Alexander Samuels
Roy F. Baumeister, a professor of psychology at Florida State University, wrote in an article titled "The Lowdown on High Self-Esteem," which appeared in the Los Angeles Times on January 25, 2005, about how he participated in the research team that studied self-esteem in 1973. The early results were weaker than he had hoped for, but . . . their positive predictions on the benefits of building self-esteem continued.
After a recent five-year review by the American Psychological Society of all the research done on self-esteem over the last 30 years, Baumeister commented, "After all these years, I'm sorry to say, my recommendation is this: Forget about self-esteem and concentrate more on self-control and self-discipline."
This is an amazing statement to all those educators, who year after year have been indoctrinated into thinking that developing a child's self-esteem is more important than academic mastery. The endless hours of workshops teachers have been forced to attend on self-esteem are probably infuriating to those whose professional experience had caused them to believe this theory was "junk science" to begin with. Yet, this is just one of the Trojan Horses of educational programs that have come along over the years. In spite of past proven failures, the public education system remains ever alert to jump right in, full force, to implement any program that promises huge results whether it has been around long enough to prove its value or not.
Parents bought into the self-esteem hogwash to the degree that they no longer wanted children recognized for their academic efforts because it might diminish the self-esteem of others. If awards were to be given, then everyone should receive a reward whether they deserved it or not. There are to be no winners or losers, in spite of the fact that life just doesn't work that way. I guess no one bothered to explain to the self-esteem researchers that life just isn't always fair and you'd better get used to it if you are going to have any kind of success in this world.
Then there are the self-esteem books, self-esteem pop-psychology and self-esteem counseling for Christians - all of which are making big bucks in the adult market. You want to know the best advice I've heard about all this? "Concentrate more on self-control and self-discipline." What is the point of being incompetent and feeling good about yourself? As Solomon said, "If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success" (Ecclesiastes 10:10).
Alexander Samuels is a regular contributor to Carolina Christian Conservative.