The Apple Of God's Eye

August 21, 2011

Is Society Unravelling Before Our Eyes?

news.za.msn.com

It’s been said that many of the people involved in the violent anarchy and looting in British and American cities are likely to have been from low-income, high unemployment estates, and many, if not most, don’t have much of a legitimate future.

What is left out of this equation is that this is the result of a three-decade liberal experiment which tore up virtually every basic social value. The married two-parent family has been virtually dismantled and abandoned.

When it comes to punishing criminals, opportunist thugs get a free pass. The riots have been fuelled by moral collapse, with homes and businesses going up in flames, and epidemic looting. And while it is clear that adults were involved, this mayhem has been carried out by teenagers and children also, some as young as eight.

Combined with a lack of intervention from police, looters quickly see that police cannot control the situation, which leads to a sort of adrenalin-fuelled euphoria where there is nothing anyone can do. It seems these youths, or let’s call it what it is – these opportunistic thugs — feel absolutely entitled to steal whatever they want. It seems incredulous that them that anyone should suggest they might be in the wrong. (more…)

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May 24, 2011

Generation Me: A Grandiose Failure

olivebites.blogspot.com

One of the main reasons I and my wife have decided to take our children out of public school is the alarming failure of character growth. Instead of teaching that life throws curve balls and they need to get up, dust themselves off and try again, they’re taught that everyone is special, no one is better than another and superiority does not exist.

As I see it, the public schooling system is now shrouded in a bubble of nonsensical myths, namely:

  1. High expectations damage self-esteem
  2. Evaluation and discipline are punitive, stressful and damaging to self-esteem
  3. Effort is more important than achievement
  4. It is the teacher’s, not the student’s, responsibility to ensure learning.

As a result of discouraging honest evaluation, overcoming and excellence, our educational system is turning out ranks of narcissists with grotesquely overblown self-esteem, zero motivation, and the logically and mathematically impossible view that, no matter what they actually do, they are always and in every way above average. Everything within our educational system has been carpeted with the dense foliage of positive self-talk, non-judgementalism, and general sunny thinking.

Further, the self-esteem movement has convinced us that those who engage in unacceptable behavior should never be corrected, disciplined, punished or otherwise restrained. Instead, they should be made to feel good about themselves, which will make them stop engaging in those actions, the thinking goes.

What we end up with is a schooling system that is an international embarrassment. We can’t add, subtract, divide, or multiply…forget about doing calculus! We can’t spell, we can’t even write our native language properly. Yet, we’re given awards for success; not one or two children, but the entire class. No child is left behind.

And so what we are witnessing in schools today is the emphasis on self-esteem as a chief virtue, divorced from achievement or even effort. Children are sheltered from the sting of failure—and therefore trapped in a fantasy world where bad behavior, lazy attitudes and poor achievement have no negative consequences. They live in an environment which teaches that praise is not just the best, but in fact the only, motivator for them. So rather than simply saying “You did good” when a child does something right, they’re told, “Wow—you’re really smart!”

All this leads to is pride and promotion of self, the glorification of narcissism. We are witnessing an ugly, unkempt, self-indulgent and demanding generation of greatly ballooned egos leading directly to narcissis, detachment from community, rejection of absolute truth, and cynicism. Yet few see the  direct correlation with the dumbing down of curricula, grade inflation, loss of motivation, an unmerited sense of entitlement and the ridiculing of critical thinking skills.

Now a lot of people reading this will want to educate me on the barbarism of my words. That’s fine – I hear what you’re saying, but, I just don’t happen to agree with you. Losing is a part of life. It may not be the most joyous occasion, but it’s the truth.

False Self-Esteem

Children do grow up and perform best in a positive environment—that is an enduring truth. A withering climate of criticism can destroy a child’s confidence and we want our children to be confident, well-adjusted and happy. But overpraise is not the way to get them there.

Let’s face it: High self-esteem is overrated. Repeated studies have proven that over-inflated self-worth doesn’t improve a child’s grades, strengthen relationships, avoid self-destructive behavior or translate into success later on in life. In fact, it can prove to be more of a hindrance in these areas, because a child raised on the notion that he is fantastic just as he is has little motivation to improve.

The other problem is that few want to be around adults who live in such self-delusion. Perhaps a child can pull off this trick around other children, but with adults, it is an alienating experience to witness someone convicted of being more popular, more capable, more loved, than is really the case.

That same high opinion, with no link to personal achievement, generally leads to crushing shocks when reality finally comes knocking. Praise is hard to come by in the brutal reality of life’s arena. Having long been shielded from small failures, the adult now finds sudden, big failures overwhelming.

A 2007 San Diego University report titled “Egos Inflating Over Time,” warned that the self-indulgent child-rearing techniques used today have led to an inability to satisfactorily adapt as contributing members of a stable society. In fact, the report indicated that this generation presents an unattractive proposition in terms of their employability within the society that has raised them.

How to properly raise children

Praise for children is not wrong, of course. We should think on what is praiseworthy and commendable (e.g. Philippians 4:8). But empty, indiscriminate praise means little. Children should receive sincere, specific praise when appropriate, which also lends itself more to giving gentle guidance on how to improve the next time. Handled correctly and lovingly, constructive criticism will not be harmful to children. In fact, it is one of life’s greatest gifts and helps them to see reality, serving as an aid to personal growth.

Strength that comes from experiencing weaknesses and teaching our children to see their inadequacies is very biblical. As Jesus Christ told us, “Without me ye can do nothing”—clearly the opposite of self-worth. The reality is this: Children must strive as they grow. They have a lot to learn and that knowledge must be practical and applicable to real life. And in the end, our children will need to recognize, deep in their heart, that, like all human beings, they must rely on God first, not their teacher, for proper guidance. 

February 6, 2010

Speak Only Once To Your Children!

Almost one third of American and Canadian parents say their methods for disciplining their children don’t work. That was the finding of a survey of 5,000 parents reported on in January 2007’s Clinical Pediatrics.

I’ve seen these parents at the local grocery store. Their repeated threats—“If you do that one more time …” “Did you hear me?” “For the last time, stop it!”—float and pop like tiny bubbles. Many of these parents have simply given up, leaving their children in charge.

Why don’t their methods of discipline work? What about you and me—do our methods work?

After time-outs and removing privileges, the third-most common form of discipline, according to this survey, is yelling at the child. This is a sign of parents who never taught their children to listen—parents who punish only when their children get on their nerves.

They have fallen into one of the easiest parenting traps: lack of consistency and follow through. The Plain Truth About Child Rearing, put out by the Worldwide Church of God under Herbert W. Armstrong, calls this “perhaps the most common of all parental failings in administering just and loving discipline.”

That booklet reads, “To punish for an infraction one day, and then to allow the same infraction without punishment the next day is totally confusing to a child. … Frequently, parents will say, ‘But I do spank him,’ and then go on to argue, ‘But it doesn’t seem to do a bit of good!’ Always, at the root of a statement such as this is discipline that is totally ineffective because it is not being done consistently.” (more…)

November 1, 2009

Male Teachers: An Increasingly Rare Breed!

1Something is seriously wrong in the field of education. Although it has a long list of perceived shortfalls with people, one thing largely overlooked is an unsettling trend: About 80 percent of America’s teachers are female. Similar trends exist in Britain, Australia and Canada.

To many, it would seem unlikely that a teacher’s gender would affect students academically. A recent study performed by Thomas S. Dee, an economist at Swarthmore College, indicates otherwise.

Dee discussed his findings in the fall issue of Education Next. “Learning from a teacher of the opposite gender has a detrimental effect on students’ academic progress,” he wrote. “My best estimate is that it lowers test scores for both boys and girls by approximately 4 percent of a standard deviation and has even larger effects on various measures of student engagement” (2006, No. 4).

Dee then highlighted the impact on America’s boys. “Adverse gender effects have an impact on both boys and girls, but that effect falls more heavily on the male half of the population in middle school, simply because most middle-school teachers are female” (ibid.).

Further on, Dee stated, “Similarly, these results suggest that part of boys’ relative propensity to be seen as disruptive in these grades is due to the gender interactions resulting from the preponderance of female teachers.” (Trumpet.com)

A study carried out for the Training and Development Agency in Britain, which is responsible for training teachers, said that boys performed better in education if they have a male teacher in their primary school. The study of more than 1,000 men revealed that almost half (48 per cent) cited male primary teachers as having the most impact on them during their school life. In addition, 35 per cent said male primary school teachers had challenged them to work harder at school (The Independent).

The firm presence of mature men as examples and role models of manhood and masculinity has a critical impact on the rounded development and maturity of all students, especially boys. Think back to the days of the brawny, athletically competent and physically strong gym teacher. He was instrumental in forming character, determination and stick-to-itiveness, as well as inspiring many teenage boys to emulate him in physical prowess and masculine traits.

“Male principals also seem to be heading the way of the dodo bird. In times past, this deep voiced man commanded the respect of even the most boisterous troublemaker. He also forged long friendships and his experience allowed him to be strong in authority, have the courage to confront adversity, and posses the ability to act decisively and forcefully when conditions warranted.

Now none of this means that male teachers are more important than female teachers to the education of children and teens. But it most assuredly points to the fact that it is wrong to dismiss men as being less important than female teachers. Rather than looking for fault, we have to understand the differences between the sexes. Male teachers provide leadership and education in areas that female teachers are generally weaker in, while female teachers excel in the areas that men are generally weaker in. A balanced education supplies young students with a healthy balance of both men and women.” (Trumpet.com)

Even as early as 1870, in the United States at least, teaching was largely a female-dominated profession. But the strong  father figure was a central tenet in the family home. Today however, the current 4:1 ratio of female to male teachers and the increasing numbers of children growing up in single parent families virtually assures that most children are missing out on strong male role models. Countless boys are now growing up with a narrow, media-designed, shallow definition of what they are to become, how they are to act, and what their role in society is. Misguided, feminized boys often mature into misguided, feminized men. Never before have we had such a drastic void of stable, masculine role models. (Indiana University Bloomington)

Sadly, it’s an inappropriate example of living in a democracy where we try to promote equality and fairness, egalitarian values in our schools. We’ve got these schools as an institution that are supposed to reproduce our culture and our values, but are extremely stratified based on gender. (Menteach.org)

And many parents are too busy to get to know the realities of the educational environments in which their children grow up, and are always looking for scapegoats in the figure of male teachers. “Abuse” allegation has now reached levels of downright hysteria, with some seeing a potential abuser in the person of every male teacher. This, in turn, makes even the most dedicated teacher bow out from the pressure, running from accusations that, even when unfounded, can ruin reputations and turn lives upside down. This is too bad as male teachers teachers help boys to provide a glimpse of potential for their own futures: a reason to work hard, to play fair, to demand respect from the world around them. It matters, too, for girls. If the first proper contact a girl has with men is as a teenager, when her hormones are raging, the consequences of her lack of experience of them are already too obvious. (Softpedia)

Never in history has there been such a drastic void of stable, masculine role models. It is a strong indication of Isaiah 3:12, which tells us that women will be leading men in our modern society, causing them to err. We need to ensure there are enough strong men in our schools to impact our children through their leadership examples.

October 21, 2009

Population Explosion, Command To Multiply: Are They Irreconcilable?

God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28). However, that command in no way obviated the need for intelligent planning and birth control. The Bible does not condemn family planning.

By focusing attention on the population explosion, there is a need to get across the seriousness of the overpopulation dilemma — and resulting famine — facing mankind. However, I am not necessarily espousing human solutions that others may advance. Rather, I mean to show that man cannot effectively solve the problem as long as he is largely motivated by selfishness, greed and vanity.

Children are a heritage of God (Ps. 127:3). All married couples should intelligently plan — unless there are extenuating circumstances — to have children. However, it is also plain that God never intended man to procreate like a mindless animal.

Man’s mind is patterned after the mind of God Himself — in whose physical and mental image man was created. Man’s mind should be exercised toward the intelligent direction in every facet of life.

The cost of caring for children also enters the picture. Paul told Timothy: “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (I Tim. 5:8). And, “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children [grandchildren] …” (Prov. 13:22).

If a married couple has more children than the family head can comfortably support, the children may never reach their full potential in later life.

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