We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
It is easy to dismiss the self-help literature as a money-making machine for writer tycoons; so much of it obviously is. But studying self-help seriously not only illuminates the American character but may actually turn up some needed wisdom. So I have explored, gingerly, as one does a cracked tooth, three facets of the self-help genre: first, the self-conscious wisdom literature exemplified by the work of Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, the Sage of Maui, self-described student of American philosophic genius, who has composed a 390-page commentary on Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, and who presents a two-hour disquisition with ten bullet points on your PBS station every time there is a pledge drive; second, the positive psychology movement, which disdains the self-help label and claims to be unfolding “a science of happiness,” and whose vanguard spokesman is Tal Ben-Shahar, an Israeli-born international consultant, lecturer, and writer who was until recently a professor at Harvard, his course informally known as Happiness 101 the most popular at the university; and the achievement masters, who are a sterner lot in general than most self-help boys and girls, and whose eyes burn bright with the latest discoveries in the forging of excellence from quite commonplace human material.
This was interesting, about the "Knowledge is Power Program" charter schools: "KIPP succeeds because it incorporates the truth of behaviorism — that environment forms character — with the truth of cognitive psychology — that habits of thought shape emotion and action. The sometimes severe behaviorist elements are essential because the harmful effects of an upbringing in the slums must be overcome. The cognitive elements are indispensable because the schools are not producing automata but preparing youths for challenging lives that will require reasoned choice, decency, and scruple. This passage from Coyle, vital with hope for social improvement one child at a time, points to a need that the self-help literature does not come close to addressing."