The chickens have come home to roost.
The first generation of students swaddled in the insanity of the self-esteem movement have emerged on the scene as arrogant, self-absorbed twits with an exaggerated sense of entitlement and self-importance.
In short, they’ve been spoiled. Potentially, they’ve been ruined.
The idiocy of social engineering in the classroom is again bearing catastrophic results.
Here’s how we know. A group of five university professors has evaluated more than 16,000 personality profiles of college students gathered over the last 24 years. What they’ve discovered is that today’s young people have dramatically different self-concepts than the two generations which preceded them.
And the differences aren’t good.
Today’s college students are monumentally more narcissistic. That means they worship themselves. That means they’ve been told that they’re special so many times that they’ve come to believe it. In blunt terms, they think their crap doesn’t stink.
But it does. Possibly more than most.
Because one of the hallmarks of an inflated self-concept is personal failure. People who think they are superior have an uncanny tendency to be inferior. Their sense of worth is so high they have no motivation to work and improve themselves. When you think the world is yours on a silver platter, it never occurs to you that you’ve got to get off your backside and earn anything.
The study shows that children born after 1982 have a unrealistically inflated self-concepts. So high is their estimation of themselves, in fact, that they are fully narcissistic – a trait that is somewhere in the gray area between a character flaw and a personality disorder. Narcissism is such an unhealthy aberration that it is almost a mental illness.
And the self-esteem movement of the 1990s has made it epidemic.
Unfortunately, the education industry has become so divorced from reality that for several years the conventional wisdom in American classrooms has been that children – particularly poor and minority children – fail to achieve because they have negative self-concepts. The way to correct that, the argument has gone, is to pump up their self-concepts through self-esteem building. That typically translated to unrealistic and unearned praise for students, and the removal of all negative feedback and consequences from the classroom. That’s why grades are artificially high, everybody gets a smiley face and teachers don’t use red ink any more.
Schools seem incapable of recognizing that true self-worth comes from doing what’s right and from legitimate achievement. Not praise passed out like candy, but genuine achievement coming as the consequence of significant effort. You earn worth, it isn’t given out for free.
The lunacy of the education reformers was matched by the leniency of the troubled homes. Mom and dad have forgotten how to be mom and dad. Children were waited on hand and foot with no obligations of their own to work or assist the family. Permissive parenting and failed educating led to a bumper crop of egocentric creeps.
And that’s going to hurt.
Because narcissists typically fail. They fail in their responsibility to be good citizens and they fail in their responsibility to be good spouses and parents.
Being a good citizen and being part of a family requires selflessness. They require putting your own interests second to the interests of something larger and more important than yourself. To the narcissist, there is nothing more important than yourself.
That leads to employment and self-reliance difficulties, and to significant challenges to the ability to maintain a marriage and raise a family.
Which bites society hard. Society needs this crop of young adults – like every crop of young adults – to assume its responsibilities as the taxpayers and the parents of the future. Each rising tide needs to shoulder its burdens and leave its mark. Failure to do that can have huge sociological consequences.
This crop has been weakened in its abilities to bear off those responsibilities by the warped worldview its education and upbringing gave it.
So what can be done?
The self-esteem crap can end. Though it is so entrenched and unquestioned, and protected by political correctness, that it is unlikely to go anywhere.
Young people must learn – with the help of others – that the world doesn’t revolve around them, and that believing it does is the quickest way to a miserable and disappointing life.
The social and religious values of the United States – and of decent nations all around the world – teach selflessness and service. Those values must be re-enthroned and the self-worship of the narcissism-breeding self-esteem movement must end.