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the wussification of education

[Title of post stolen from Joanne Jacobs because it fits the bill and wussification is such a great word]

I wonder if stories like the one on the peaceful playground (which I covered here and Kimberly Swygert covered here and Joanne Jacobs covered here) are the reason for kids who behave like this (todayís post about the kids burning down our playground).

By trying to wussify our kids we are, in turn, giving them more power. By elevating their self esteem on a daily basis, giving lectures on how wonderful they are, and not punishing them in the classic sense (real consequences instead of time-outs), we make them feel mighty and invulnerable.

Read any post over at Tongue Tied and youíll see why our children are growing up with no sense of boundaries; because there arenít any. The lines between permissiveness and correctness have been blurred to the point where schools and other institutions have become one giant field of political correctness and hand holding.

The programs that have been put into place run in contrast to each other. You can no longer call someone a bum, for instance, but if you do there will be a thorough investigation into why you called the person a bum, if the person deserved it, what that person did to make you feel like you had to offend him and your full psychological history will be written up in an effort to clear you of any wrongdoing because there are no victims, there are no perpetrators. There are only misunderstandings and misused words and any rifts can be healed with a group discussion and perhaps we can put on a play to help you solve your differences.

So you have kids who are shielded from every feeling bad, shielded from behavior or words that may be considered offensive or biased, for instance:

An essay about the plethora of life in a rotting stump in a forest was rejected because it compared the stump to an apartment building and that might make people who live in apartments or public housing feel bad.

While the efforts of the thought/language police may be well intentioned, they are, in effect, creating monsters. A child who grows up thinking that there are no consequences to his actions because he has heard time and time again, there are no bad kids, only bad actions, will think that the kid himself, because he is not bad, will not be punished. In a world where consequence means a time out or thinking about what you did or a walk in a peaceful maze, the strongest and boldest of the kids will invariably become even stronger and bolder.

Like the child whose mother and father are so afraid to punish him for fear of hurting his feelings that he uses this knowledge to get away with murder, a child who goes to a school where there is no real punishment for bad behavior will try to get away with bigger and bigger things.

We are wussifying the kids who were already too quiet and shy to bother getting into trouble. And we are empowering the bullies, the delinquents and the troublemakers.

Political correctness in our schools will reap no benefits. Some day, we will look back at this movement as the worst thing to happen to the education system since the beginning of time.

Comments

There is a punishment. It is called Ritalin.

Michael Barone commented about this phenomenon in the most recent US News and World Report. To wit:

http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/030512/opinion/12pol.htm

Barone describes the difference between "soft" and "hard" America, and how we've managed to produce kick-ass competent 30 year olds, when the average high school graduate can't find his ass with both hands.

Essentially, Michele, you're arguing for a "hard" (or at least moreso) junior high and high school environment. I happen to agree with you. "Soft" is a luxury that we can inflict upon our children, and that's why so many folks are attracted to the concept.

My mother is a retired primary school teacher who occasionally substitutes at the private school she formerly taught at. She shared an anecdote with me that she heard from one of the other teachers.

The class (second grade, if I recall) was playing a learning game. One of the girls in the class got caught cheating at the game, and the teacher made her sit out the rest of the time.

A few days later, the girl's mother confronted the teacher, and informed her that she had done the wrong thing by taking the girl out of the game. What the teacher should have done, according to the mother, was to wait until after the game was over, then take the girl aside and ask her "what was I (the teacher) doing that made you want to cheat?".

Schools are permissive and passive because of the parents. Parents don't want to deal with unhappy kids; they want schools to make their children happy and content.

Here's more that's even more frightening:

http://www.insomnomaniac.com/archives/000517.html

http://www.insomnomaniac.com/archives/000518.html

http://www.insomnomaniac.com/archives/000522.html

I used to teach and this is one of the main reasons I got out. Schools today are more interested in the child's self-esteem than anything else. It is a sad state of affairs when stories like Dan's are all too common. The parent in Dan's story probably isn't in tune with their child and thus goes to the teacher to stand up for the child because they aren't there much in any other way. It has happened to me.

I like the quote from Denzel Washington's character in the movie "Remember the Titans" that went something like this: "The world ain't interested in these kids' feelings. You aren't helping them by taking them aside and making them feel better when I come down on them. You're crippling them. You're crippling them for life."

Truer words have never been spoken. You have to be responsible for your actions and there are reactions to every one of your actions. If you don't learn it when you are young, it comes as a shock when you get out of the make-believe of academia and into the real world.

There is a plus side here...though it's hard to see

The kids are being given an education that prepares them for a world that is nothing like what their PC-mongering lefty teachers say it is. Upoin leaving school this fact will slam into them like a runaway freight train.

The world is NOT fair. You ARE held responsible for your actions.

When faced with this, their worldview crumbles. And somthing wonderful happens.

Those with some fortitude realise that they were lied to, that the world is different than they were taught. These people become more cynical, questioning--distrustful of authority and those who say we should expand it. They begin to realise that they must make their own way in the world, trust their own thoughts and opinions.

The process is traumatic, and some do fall by the wayside--trying to force the world into the shape they were told it was, but in the end the kids emerge stronger.