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Off topic: Why many proposed improvements to failing schools don’t really work, Part I: Self-esteem rules!

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Program 1. Fishtown students need more self-esteem. This was a pioneer program, and probably only shreds of it were left by the time Jane South peeked around the battered door of the kindergarten room in 2007. But the echo lingered.

Many theorists had come to the conclusion that Fishtown students were more likely to drop out, have babies on welfare, do drugs, or get into trouble with the law because they lacked self-esteem. If they had self-esteem, the argument went, they would value a degree from a good university, a stable relationship before starting a family, and freedom from the intrusions of law enforcement.

It is easy to see how the theorists arrived at this view:

When confessing their shortcomings to aid workers and officials, Fishtown’s young adults seemed downcast and abashed. Some wizened teachers, nearing retirement, insulted the designers of the new “Superheroes got nothin’ on ME!!” program by suggesting that they should not take such a response at face value …


Self-esteem is only one portion of raising an emotionally health child. The problem today is that kids are raised to believe that self-esteem is the most important thing and this slowly turns into arrogance and elitism by the time they reach college age. Barb

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