A New Look at School
While we know that the number of school
shootings is not actually increasing (though the exercised reaction of the press
might lead one to conclude otherwise) there is still the question of,
"Why?" Why do these kids suddenly decide to kill their teachers and
Roy Baumeister's "Violent Pride" (in
the April issue of Scientific American) sheds a bit of light on the subject. His
research indicates that the psych folks have (once again) had all the wrong
answers. It turns out that in the psych community everyone "knows"
that low self-esteem can lead to violence. But as Baumeister explored the
underpinnings of that belief, he found that there had never been any research
into the subject - it was just something that everyone had always
"known." In short, the driving force behind Outcome-Based Education (OBE),
the sacred edict that "no child shall be left behind" and that society
is best served when "everyone is a winner" - is nothing more than
supposition. A guess.
The public school system that rewards students
who "try" hard, by dishing out "A"s for anyone who can show
up for class most of the time, may be built on a false premise. The purpose of
OBE, we've been told, is to protect the children from "negative self
images." This may be fine for encouraging the efforts of toddlers, but the
real world is full of disappointments and a kid who can't handle a setback
cannot handle life.
Which sounds a lot like the students who have
been doing the shooting.
The psych wags have clucked in communal tempo
at each act of senseless violence, self-assured that what "everyone
knew" was what they knew too... that low self-esteem was at the root of
these senseless acts of violence, that the Columbine
and Santana shootings
resulted from the low self-esteem of the perpetrators.
So Baumeister's research should be a shot of
ice-cold water to the collective kissers of all those saged shrinks.
Baumeister's research indicates that HIGH self-image is the more likely
precursor to violence.
"The person with low self-esteem
emerges from our investigation as someone who is not prone to aggressive
responses. Instead one should beware of people who regard themselves as
superior to others, especially when those beliefs are inflated, weakly
grounded in reality or heavily dependent on having others confirm them
Baumeister comments that when evaluating
convicted criminals as a study group,
"On narcissism... the violent
prisoners had a higher mean score than any other published sample."
[As defined by psychologists, narcissism is
characterized by "inflated or grandiose views of self, the quest for
excessive admiration, an unreasonable or exaggerated sense of entitlement, a
lack of empathy, an exploitive attitude towards others, a proneness to envy or
wish to be envied, frequent fantasies of greatness, and arrogance."]
So are kids killing kids because they have low
self-esteem? Or are they turning violent because they've been given a hugely
inflated image of themselves, helped along by a system that forbids the finding
of fault? When their belief that they are the center of the universe collides
with the reality that they are not - do sparks fly?
Draw your own conclusions regarding what effect
government schools are having on the youth of America - each coddled, each
student pampered and fussed over and receiving constant reinforcement of the
idea that they are the future of the world, and the most important element
therein. Turn those thoughts over.
Perhaps you will find one of the answers to the
Schools & Guns
Kids & Guns