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The feel-good curriculum : the dumbing-down of America's kids in the name of sel
Stout, Maureen
Adult Nonfiction LC191.4 .S76 2000

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From Publishers' Weekly:

In a country where every other auto bumper bears a sticker proclaiming that the driver's child is an "honor student," this attack on the "empty and very dangerous" concept of self-esteem couldn't be more timely. An education professor at California State University-Northridge, Stout traces how the ideology of self-esteem developed from early 20th-century progressive schooling through the influence of educational psychology to what she views as the current "idiotic" idea that school should be a kind of therapy. Along the way, she excoriates a number of educational fads and theories, including "whole-language," Ebonics, emotional intelligence and Howard Gardner's theories of multiple intelligences. Stout reserves her harshest criticism for those who teach teachers, arguing that today, "almost every aspect of public schooling, including evaluation, standards, curriculum, and class environment, reflects the goals of the self-esteem movement," and that its worst effects have been on language and literacy. Identifying four major symptoms of the "addiction" to self-esteem--narcissism, separatism, emotivism and cynicism--Stout raises serious questions about the reasons for the current state of public education in the U.S. Unfortunately, her arguments are often weakened by reductive treatments of history and the theories of those she disagrees with. At times, she writes in a dated style ("It is reason that has permitted man to create civil societies") and is occasionally given to wild exaggerations, to the point of appearing to blame the self-esteem movement for murder. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

The title and subtitle of this passionately argued and fluidly written attack on contemporary education philosophy and practice says it all. According to education professor Stout (California State Univ., Northridge), the root problems of American education can be traced to the tragically mistaken belief that self-esteem is a primary goal of education. She maintains that self-esteem should instead flow from a student's substantive achievements. Her targets are the usual suspects that "back-to-basics" adherents attack: Ebonics, Carl Rogers, social promotion, identity politics, moral relativism, and the Montessori Method. To support her position, she refers to the works of many critics of today's education and culture, including Christopher Lasch's The Culture of Narcissism and Neil Postman's Technopoly. Although she hits home with some of the colorful subtitles of her chapters ("Psychoanalysis and Education: A Marriage Made in Hell") and scores points against some of the absurdities of how progressive education is practiced today--such as social promotion, overmedication with Ritalin, and racial separatism--Stout is prone to overgeneralizations (e.g., "Americans have always been an isolationist people and tend to look inward for answers"). Provocative but short on solutions, this is of primary interest to professional educators and future teachers and of secondary interest to educated lay readers.--Jack Forman, San Diego Mesa Coll. Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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