We’ve Had 100 Years Of Progressive Education And The World’s Getting Worse, writes Jordan Shapiro, a fellow at Sesame Street Workshop’s Joan Ganz Clooney Center, in Forbes. “A century of well-intentioned progressive trends in education may have cultivated a generation of entitled I-me-mine individualist ‘winners’,” he suggests.
Each wealthy kid who is taught to follow his/her passion, discover his/her true vocation, or find his/her authentic self, is also inadvertently learning that personal success is a kind of implicit manifest destiny.
Parenting norms differ by social class, writes Robert Putnam in Our Kids. “Well-educated parents aim to raise autonomous, independent, self-directed children with high self-esteem and the ability to make good choices, whereas less educated parents focus on discipline and obedience and conformity to pre-established rules.”
Reformers “try to spread the message of self-actualization more equitably,” writes Shapiro. They forget that “self-confidence and individual empowerment” aren’t neutral or equitable. “Winners necessarily require losers.”
Shapiro dreams of “new classroom rules, new district wide administrative systems, new school designs and new educational customs that will break the cycle of winners and losers, haves and have nots.”
We need to teach our children that the goal is not self-empowerment for the sake of the individual, but rather for the collective. They must learn not only how to identify and discover their unique gifts, but also how to offer them up in service to the rest of us.
Do winners require losers? If Johnny learns to read well, is that bad for Susie?
And teaching kids to serve the collective is . . . kind of creepy, right?