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Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2012-02-03 11:04:17
Just Make Them DO IT
Back in the '70s, school administrations became enamored with the notion of raising students' self-esteem in order to raise their academic performance, despite the lack of any legitimate psychiatric correlation between the two.
Turns out, good-old-fashioned ego crushing competition works just fine. Japanese schools produce students that feel they are poor at math and science, yet they VASTLY outperform our students who erroneously believe they excel at those subjects. The only thing that "I'm Special" classes did was to give students a fraudulently inflated misconception of their own ability, leading to the Milennials that find their worlds destroyed when confronted with the truth that they aren't great at everything (or much of anything).
(In addition, "self-esteem" has also been found to correlate with criminal behavior. Modern bullies often have over-inflated self-esteem, leading them to the belief that they are superior to others. Related research indicates that violent youth gang members possess similarly high opinion of themselves.)
Which brings us to today. As we face the epidemic of childhood obesity (diabetes will annihilate the next generation), we get well-intentioned endeavors like Dance Dance Revolution Classroom Edition. It's a PC version of the formerly popular music game that allows for 48 dance mats to be daisy-chained together, for the purpose of Physical Education.
Listen, this sort of extra investiture is unnecessary. Just shove these butterball kids out onto the asphalt and have them throw red rubber balls at each others' faces until they sweat the lard out of their systems. It kept us in shape when we were kids, and the competition helped us realize that we need to hustle if we don't want life to smack us in the face with high speed projectiles. Today's kids don't even realize that life is fraught with metaphorical balls to the face. They're too busy being told they're special while stuffing their faces.