Within the past week, two seemingly unrelated news stories have come to my attention. First, it appears that building students’ self-esteem is related to their poor performance in math. The reports on this that I have read seem to imply that high self-esteem causes poor math performance. Of course, math professors and other well-educated individuals with reasoning abilities know that the type of study reported is a correlational study and that correlation cannot determine causation.
Yes, it may be true that our lovely little darlings’ high held opinions of themselves interferes with their ability to solve equations, but there may be a third variable at work. Perhaps our little darlings cannot add and subtract without a calculator because too much of the school day is taken up with feel-good messages and lessons on the importance of loving one’s self. If that time were spent on teaching actual subject matter, perhaps America would not be lagging in terms of math. Or, perhaps students’ high self-esteem leads them to believe that they have the ability to outperform anyone on any math test placed in front of them without having to study. After all, the sun shines out of their…uh…ears.
Which leads me to the next news story that grabbed my attention. It seems that the childhood staple game of tag is being outlawed by a number of schools. Why, you may ask. The reasons are two-fold. First, little Jimmy or little Suzie’s delicate feelings might get hurt. Heaven forbid! Never mind that by playing tag and having to be “it” all the time might actually teach Jimmy or Suzie that they just aren’t good at something. Never mind that by losing at tag repeatedly, they might just come to the realization that they might need to practice and put some effort into running and maneuvering. No, no, no….we wouldn’t want to burst the bubble that mom, dad and the school have so carefully constructed.
The second reason given for banning tag is that schools might beopening themselves up to lawsuits if Jimmy or Suzie falls down and gets a boo-boo. Evidently, the elementary schools are afraid of having to pay the medical costs involved with an application of Neosporin and a band-aid.
So kids, what are you learning in class today? That you are the best thing to ever happen on this planet, that knowing this is more important than being able to figure out the sales tax on the new car mommy and daddy will buy you for graduation, and that if anyone hurts you or your self esteem, you should sue!