As another year of high school graduates enter the real world, I can’t help but think of how the school system, the self-esteem movement, and helicopter parenting is producing a generation of ill-prepared young people. Of course, while not all young people have a dangerously high self-esteem or helicopter parents, far too many do, and it has created what is now commonly referred to as “The Entitlement Generation.”
Just a few days ago, I couldn’t stop shaking my head in disgust. Not disbelief, but disgust. I was reading an article in the Winnipeg Free Press titled “Failed bid for med school no basis for suit: judge” by court reporter Mike McIntyre. In short, Henya Olfman, a young lady who most probably suffers from an off-the-chart level of self-esteem, was not accepted into the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Medicine. Her lawyer daddy Shawn Olfman, who is seemingly a perfect example of a helicopter parent, thought the best route would be to launch lawsuits against the province and the UofM, on the basis that his precious daughter is “entitled” admission into the faculty (despite her failing in the admissions process).
While the narcissistic shrines to oneself on Facebook likely do not help (seeing those ‘likes’ pour in for ‘selfies’ and mundane status updates likely inflate the ego), that’s too obvious a target. What should be discussed more is that our public education system is quite guilty of creating off-the-charts and harmful self-esteem.
In Manitoba, our schools actively contribute to the false notion that life will be easy and one can achieve whatever they want. Manitoba has an unwritten no-fail policy in most (if not all) school divisions. This policy is largely practiced in the years before but also during high school. Doesn’t matter if Little Jane/Jimmy is dumber than a bag of hammers, all that matters is that they feel good about themselves. The core subjects take a back seat to endless field trips and ‘exploration learning’ (where the students can do whatever they please – recess during class time, essentially). Punishments and rewards are out of vogue, and now it is ‘building a relationship to suit the child.’ The hip philosophies are ‘what type of additional fun can we provide to the disruptive child so they don’t act up as much?’ and ‘we will tailor (AKA dumb down) the material for each child to meet them where they’re at.’ Children keep advancing to stay with their same-aged peers, failing would damage their self-esteem. “Grades” should not be used to describe where they’re at, as it is now really just ‘age-level.’ I assure you, this is what’s happening, I’m not merely a casual observer of our public school system. Children are learning that there are no consequences and that they will get to do what they want to do… if only life were actually like that!
The popular ‘helicopter parenting’ style has played a negative role in many youth’s development. These are parents who ‘hover above’ their offspring at all times, spoiling their brats, rarely ever saying “no,” and doing their best to ensure that life goes just perfectly for their little snowflakes. They sadly continue this behaviour with their adult children as well, such as the case with Heyna and her daddy Shawn. Ideally an adult should act as their own agent, and in this case either appeal the school’s decision themselves or embark on a different education or life course if the first plan didn’t pan out. If as a child and teenager your helicopter parents were constantly hovering over, ensuring that life was peachy sweet, fought your battles for you, and did everything that is difficult for you, then you’re likely to still rely on them when you’re an adult.
Combine such dangerously lofty self-esteem (‘I can do anything I want because I’m soooo special!’) with lessons learned from the school system (‘I will easily move forward and nothing will be too difficult’) and helicopter parenting (‘Daddy and Mommy will always take care of my problems and make my life easy’), and you have a nasty recipe for many young people to crash and burn when life doesn’t magically provide for them. They can’t properly cope with the fact that they are not entitled to do whatever they want.
Best of luck to our high school graduates! You’ll need lots of luck as our school system did a lousy job teaching you but rather inflated your ego; and real life will be even more shocking if you were unfortunate enough to have helicopter parents.
For supplemental material, I recommend checking out this bit of stand-up comedy on the self-esteem movement by the great George Carlin (click here). There is also a terrific and illustrated theory on the causes of the entitlement generation at the Huffington Post (click here).
The Midtown Troll