Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Culture of Praise...and a Haunting

Okay...two interesting things today:

One...the ghost of Jimmy Cliff has miraculously intervened in our lives, in the form of an unsolicited YouTube video posted to this very blog. I thought Lori did it, she thought I did it...but now we believe it was Jimmy that done it. We were disappointed that he didn't add any text, possibly about the availability of good dope in the afterlife.


The other interesting thing (and probably more pertinent to the rest of you who aren't being haunted by Jimmy Cliff) is that I heard an interesting Talk of the Nation on NPR. Half the show was devoted to youthful indiscretions, and how long far into your adult life you should have to pay penance for them, and the other half was about "The Culture of Praise".

The culture of praise part fascinated me. It was about the expectations of young employees, those in their 20s and 30, for their workplace. They expect to be valued and praised a lot for achievements that appear minor to us old folks: showing up on time, showing up at all, actually getting some work done at work, etc. A lot of workplaces are reconfiguring their HR strategies to take those expectations into account. They achieve this is by, among other things, sending voice mails to employees thanking them for coming to work on time for a month, having "confetti parties" when they achieve their departmental goals, and providing copious gifting for their fickle charges.

The theory behind all that professional love was that parents of our generation intentionally inculcated in our children the belief that they were special. One caller called it the "Mr. Rogers Effect." The self-esteem movement was apparently begun innocently enough by parents who wanted to give their children all the emotional support and love that they felt they'd missed out on during the Father Knows Best era of the '50s and '60s.

So our peers continually reinforced to their children their inherent value. And our kids apparently took that message to heart. The result? Confetti parties.

So there I was, laughing about how ludicrous the idea of all that excessive workplace reinforcement was, and I arrived at my own workplace to find...

T-shirts! For everyone! Telling us that "There's No Us Without You!"

It's a sick world indeed when self-esteem comes to the Heartland. Luckily, I've done my part to stop the madness: I've explained to my own kids that children have no value until they can actually do something. They've taken this to heart and have no visible self-esteem. My work as a parent is done.

Note: The Evie School of Parenting will open it's doors promptly at 9am. Anyone who arrives late will be summarily grounded until Evie forgets why she was mad. All students will receive an "F" until they can convince Professor Evie that they deserve a better grade, possibly with generous endowments to the Evie U. Library Fund.


marl said...

sadly, the "mr rogers" effect has created a generation of young folks who are completely self-indulgent. they want what they want when they want it. their expectations of rewards for even the most inconsequential appropriate behavior are enormous. showing up on time for work should be the norm, not the exception. there shouldn't be confetti parties when people actually do what they get paid to do.

jesus christ.

Ev said...

And really, the paycheck is the reward. I'll take less confetti and more cash, please.

marl said...

you betcha - more dough, less show!