I wasn’t wise enough to understand what was going on at the time, but when I was in grade school, I often had the sense that we were guinea pigs in various vacuous feel-good feminine experiments. The one I hated most was against competition. My teachers were mainly women and they were more interested in nurturing than competing, but only with my competitive fires burning did I do well in school. Without competition, I couldn’t be bothered to put in much effort.
Also, we never had any military history courses. That would have excited me and most blokes I knew.
* My classmates and I had it drilled into our heads that we could be or do whatever we wanted if only we set our minds to it. This stuff goes back to the 70s, what with “Free to Be” and the like.
Most of the smarter kids knew it was BS, but a lot of people took it to heart. I’ve heard a lot of really unintelligent people forcefully assert that if you believe something enough it will happen. The few times I tried to correct them I was angrily shouted down.
That’s what’s really at the root of this self-esteem panacea: magical thinking. Your positive thoughts are supposed to bring about positive changes in your life.
I often quiz my children about what kind of stuff their teachers are telling them, and when I detect any of this garbage I explain why it’s wrong. Telling kids lies to boost self-esteem is more harmful than telling them uncomfortable truths.
I’m pretty sure transsexualism never would have been taken seriously without this anti-intellectual trend that came out of the 60s.
Whatever the case, it’s probably futile to fight magical thinking because it seems to be hardwired. That being the case, it’s better channeled into something harmless or constructive, like prayer or ritual. I’ve recognized it in myself, and while I consciously realize it’s false, sometimes the easiest course is just to observe the taboo, superstition or whatever it may be. An example would be thinking about something bad happening to one of my kids. I try hard not to, because doing so gives me a dreadful feeling that something bad will happen to them, even though I know that my thoughts will not have any effect, and might even help me prepare for the worst.