Attending a recent high school concert opened my eyes to an issue (aka problem?), which my wife, another couple that attended, and I discussed at length, later. Will Political Correctness, the Self-Esteem Movement, and Diversity damage our kids and their futures?
California originated the so-called “self-esteem” movement. I noticed a strange thing going on when my now-grown boys were in Elementary School. There were regular assemblies in which awards were given to about 25% of each class each assembly. There were about four assemblies per year. Voila! EVERYONE got an award/trophy. True achievement was diminished in one fell swoop.
The names of some of these awards were comical. “Showed Up” is a cynical example. “Raised his/her hand in class” is another funny example. But, truly, they weren’t far off from these laughable ideas. And, what was the lesson being taught our kids? That EVERYONE wins. That EVERYONE is equal. Is it a lovely ideal? Perhaps. But, does it exist in real life? Does EVERYONE win the World Series, elections, make CEO salaries, and win American Idol, an Emmy, Tony, or Oscar?
Of course not! Real life and real rewards are earned. In some cases, I would argue they are earned and there is luck involved – many in showbiz were lucky AND talented. Tom Cruise had that one bit, in his tidy-whities, in “Risky Business” when he lip-synched “That Old Time Rock ‘N’ Roll” that MADE him a star. Jennifer Lopez starred as “Selena” in a movie, which was the perfect intersection of part, her age/ethnicity, and timing to become a STAR! Would they both have become such big stars without both talent and, perhaps, that good fortune? We’ll never know.
But, the list of actors and singers who had their shot and disappeared far far outweighs those that made it.
So too our kids will face the harsh realities of real life, the real job market, and the truth of talent or lack of it.
We attended the afore-mentioned concert with our friends where the majority of the young women on stage were representative of the majority of young people in our country today – overweight. Dressed mostly in revealing yoga-style pants, it was joyful to see their exuberance and talent. As I wrote in a previous column, my judgmental nature has already gone through an improvement and I did thoroughly enjoy the show.
BUT, how many of these kids will succeed in their dreams on Broadway, the movies, television, or music? Did ANY teacher or parent EVER suggest that they get in shape since they WILL be judged on their appearance when they audition for a chorus line/ensemble cast on Broadway or a part – OTHER than a character part – where looks/size is a part of the equation?
I posited that ANY teacher that suggested (to a girl in particular) that it might be a wise idea to lose some weight would be subject to severe punishment from the school board, parents, and administrators and could even be subject to the loss of a job.
Is this in the BEST INTEREST of our children to coddle them with platitudes when real life can be very harsh?
I really don’t have an answer but I think it’s probably a nuanced and layered approach that would be best going forward. Young kids in elementary school certainly do not need to be stigmatized for their looks/size. It’s wonderful to see the diversity of ethnicity and gender in many of the school performances so I see no need to change that good improvement in our society. But, when the kids enter middle and high school, wouldn’t they be better served hearing the truth they WILL face at the latest upon leaving high school (should they pursue any career in entertainment)?
Is that elementary school trophy for “good attendance” gathering dust on a kid’s shelf really helping him or her succeed in life?