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I Timothy 3:15
The Phyllis Schafly Report
Self-Esteem Is Replacing the Three R’s
Elementary school children may no longer be taught to read and write, but they will almost surely be given one of the trendy new psychological courses in self-esteem. Self-esteem is supposed to be the magic bullet that will cure all school and social problems, from poor academic performance to teenage pregnancies, VD, drug abuse, and dropouts.
Since the teachers' colleges now promote self-esteem as the most up-to-date philosophy of education, entrepreneurs have met the challenge by producing innovative and expensive curricula to sell to the vast public school market. The most successful courses are those called "Pumsy In Pursuit of Excellence" (which claims to be in 40 percent of the nation’s elementary schools) and DUSO (Developing Understanding of Self and Others.)
The eight-week Pumsy program designed for ages 6 to 11 is made up of stories and activities featuring a small female dragon named Pumsy, who comes alive in the classroom through the use of a puppet. Pumsy has three mind-sets–her Mud Mind, her Clear Mind, and her Sparkle Mind–which children are taught to emulate.
When Pumsy finds it difficult to feel good about herself, she is said to be in her Mud Mind. With the help of her friends, Pumsy develop positive thinking and self esteem so she can feel good about herself in spite of things that happen to her which she dislikes.
During the classroom sessions using Pumsy, the counselor leads the children in "painting mind pictures"–a euphemism for guided imagery. The exercises call on the children to mentally transport themselves into the Mind Pictures where they meet and talk to imaginary friends who give them good feelings, wise counsel, and self esteem. Pumsy directs elementary school children to place their trust in imaginary friends, peers or school counselors, instead of their parents, for help and guidance in difficult life situations. One counselor even told her class, "Jesus and God can’t be with you all the time, so you need to call on Pumsy who will never leave you."
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with developing children’s imagination. But there is a lot wrong with using progressive relaxation techniques that are akin to hypnosis, followed by guided imagery that crosses the line between reality and fantasy.
A Ph.D. dissertation this year by Dr. Julie Ann Kummer at Marquette University shows that Pumsy has no significant measurable effect on children’s self esteem. The findings of her empirical study are a direct challenge to prevailing education establishment views. Dr. Kummer’s research was based on accepted procedures of comparing a class that used Pumsy with a control group that didn’t use any self-esteem curriculum. The children’s self esteem was measured before and after on the Piers-Harris Children’s Self-Concept Scale, which is generally recognized as the best available testing technique.
Timberline Press, the publisher of Pumsy, is fighting back against its critics by distributing instructions to schools on how to deal with parents. The instructions use the now-popular technique of attacking parents as "fundamental Christians" who favor censorship.
DUSO has 42 guided imagery lessons in which children are ordered by teachers to relax and close their eyes. Then the children are told to pretend they are travelling to faraway places where they meet friendly creatures, such as DUSO the dolphin. Like most self-esteem courses, DUSO attempts to reorganize the belief and value systems of children. DUSO elevates feelings over facts and standards, and involves group dynamics in which children reveal their inner thoughts and conflicts.
Parental opposition to DUSO resulted in the New Mexico state senate passing a resolution urging that "the teaching of or counseling by certain mind-altering psychological techniques be entirely eliminated in New Mexico public schools."
The use of Pumsy, DUSO, and other psychological courses caused the Alabama State Board of Education this year (1994) to adopt a regulation that prohibits public schools from using "hypnosis and dissociative mental states" where "the boundary between the real and fantasy or illusion becomes blurred." The regulation also forbids the use of guided imagery and transcendental or similar types of meditation induced by progressive relaxation.
Other states should do likewise. At best, these self-esteem courses fail in their announced purpose, are a waste of time, and divert precious school hours away from the basics. At worst, they are unlicensed group psychotherapy conducted on minors without the informed consent of their parents.
OBE Means More Dumbing Down
Outcome-Based Education (OBE) hasn’t made it onto the national TV network nightly newscasts, but it’s almost the only issue that’s guaranteed to bring out a crowd of hundreds of people in the highways and byways of America.
Outcome-Based Education is the current demand made by the public school establishment that network of tax-salaried people who have had total control over the spending of hundreds of billions of education dollars and now have circled the wagons to avoid relinquishing their control to mere parents, taxpayers or other citizens.
In the face of the obvious failure of the public schools to get a passing grade on the mission to which they were assigned, the public school establishment invented Outcome-Based Education as a mechanism to maintain their control and conceal their failures. OBE is billed as "reform," but it’s really a plan to rearrange the chairs on the deck of the sinking Titanic.
OBE is based on the theory that every child can achieve a designated "outcome"–it just takes some children longer. So, all students are allowed to take tests over and over again until they pass, and no student can advance until all in the group pass. Under OBE, the student has no incentive to study, work hard, and pass a test, because he can always take it again later. Since the primary goal is to develop self-esteem and to be a part of the group, rather than to learn or to achieve, OBE bans competition, honors, and traditional subject matter courses and grades.
To enable every child ultimately to attain the "outcomes," the outcomes must be "dumbed down." Many outcomes are also subjective, not capable of measurement, and frequently psychological and attitudinal.
OBE can usually be identified by its report cards. Los Angeles and Houston are among the school districts that have adopted a new grading system that makes it easy for students to get high marks, and almost impossible to get an F.
Los Angeles students are given grades such as "S" meaning "area of strength," "G" meaning "shows growth," and "N" meaning "needs improvement." Since self esteem has replaced self achievement, "F’s" are out, and the Washington, D.C. schools have declared it impossible for a student to fail an elementary grade any more.
School board elections in the fall of 1993 show that, when OBE is put directly to the voters, it is trounced. The suburban school district in Littleton, Colorado, had been lauded by the National Education Association as a national model for Outcome-Based Education.
It was described by Education Week as having "pioneered new performance assessments and standards for high school graduation." The voters, however, were not impressed. In the November 2 election, they gave a 2-to-1 mandate to three new school board members to replace OBE with a traditional emphasis on the three R’s. The victorious candidates ran on a back-to-basics platform opposing OBE.
OBE does nothing to upgrade academic standards. Instead, it is designed to conceal the progressive lowering of standards. OBE will continue the dumbing down of the public schools, which have already been dumbed down by at least two years from what they were 30 years ago.