Thursday, March 8, 2007

The New Age of Narcissism

I know this story is a few days old, but I felt compelled to comment on it. I spent a year a half as a high school teacher and a large part of the reason I am not still one today is the things described in this article. In my education classes, we spent a lot of time talking about fostering self-esteem and other such nonsense, but when I was actually in the classroom, it quickly became apparent that these kids had no problem with their self-esteem.

We live in an age in which white middle and upper-class children have been protected and coddled so much by their obnoxious boomer parents that the boomers have managed to not only pass on their narcissism to the next generation, but actually make it worse. So here are my solutions to this problem:

1) Limit parental involvement in primary and secondary schools.
Why do schools waste so much time on self-esteem nonsense? Because its hard to fail Self-Esteem. If they actually try to teach academics, there is the possibility a student might not do well, which leads to time and energy draining conversations with obnoxious parents who are not asking how they can work with their kid to improve, but trying to change the rules to something their kid can succeed in. It is utterly ridiculous and incredibly dangerous to our long-term health as nation if we shirk the responsibility of educating our kids just because its hard.

2) Cut university enrollment in half.
Universities have become 4-year summer camps for the privileged, while plenty of brilliant students waste away in subpar community colleges. Many vocational majors should be shifted to 2 and 3-year programs at community colleges, with appropriate funding. Universities, meanwhile, should drop Residential Life departments and other such wastes of money and focus on beefing up the core curriculum. This accomplishes several goals
-With more state funding and tuition money coming their way, community colleges lose their second-class status and become recognized as places for intensive professional preparation programs designed to make students ready for the workplace, not as discount alternatives to a university education.
-With much of their fat trimmed, state universities can once again become affordable for the average middle-class student and a bachelor's degree can be obtained without being saddled with debt.
-With the time-wasting children of privilege gone, no Res Life to stroke their egos and a more focused core curriculum to keep them hitting the books, the hedonistic "Girls Gone Wild" culture that has enveloped state universities in the last decade will fade back to its proper place. I know partying has always been a part of college life (more broadly, it is typically a part of young adult life), but the commodified party culture exemplified by GGW and MTV Spring Break has turned into something far more sinister and soul-deadening. But that is probably better left to another post where it can be explored more fully.

No comments: