Feeling Good and Doing Well

Here’s another good post from The Art of Manliness website titled “The Decline of Traditional Honor in the West in the 20th Century.” It’s a long one but definitely worth reading. Here’s an excerpt in the section of the article titled “Egalitarianism and Inclusion.”

In 1969, psychologist Nathaniel Brandon published a very influential paper called “The Psychology of Self-Esteem” in which he argued that “feelings of self-esteem are the key to success in life.” Brandon’s ideas were first institutionalized when a task force, charged by the California state legislature, formulated a set of recommendations entitled, “Toward a State of Esteem.” The report argued that low self-esteem caused a variety of ills ranging from academic failure to teen pregnancy, and that teaching self-esteem in schools would be a “social vaccine” to inoculate kids from these problems. It recommended that every school district in California strive for “the promotion of self-esteem…as a clearly stated goal, integrated into its total curriculum and informing all of its polices and operations” and that “course work in self-esteem should be required for credentials…for all educators.”

Other states and schools were swept up into this movement and incorporated self-esteem-boosting exercises into their curriculum and programs. These exercises and guidelines – which often revolved around eliminating competition from the classroom — were designed to make students feel good about themselves, under the belief that these good feelings would then beget all sorts of success for them.

However, as later researchers found out, true self-esteem actually has two components — feeling good and doing well. The self-esteem movement had gotten their order mixed up. While the California report posited that low self-esteem causes problems like teen pregnancy and welfare dependence, studies have shown that the opposite is true; low self-esteem is the consequence, not the cause, of such behavior. Thus you can’t start with “feeling good” and have it lead to doing well. It happens the other way around. Feeling good, and true self-esteem, naturally follow from doing well. You can’t pump kids full of self-esteem — it’s something they have to earn for themselves, through true merit.

You really should read the whole thing. There’s a lot to chew on here.

Also, the new issue of Salvo is in the mail now. Subscribers should be receiving their issues soon if they haven’t already. Some articles are up online too, along with the fake ads. I’ll be posting more here at the blog soon.

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